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  1. ITV Report

I think I might have cancer - what do I do?

It's important to talk to your GP or nurse about what you've noticed Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA

It's tempting to use a search engine when you're worried about your health, but alongside the helpful things there is also a lot of nonsense that can unnecessarily worry or scare you.

  • Talk to your friends and family

Whatever you’re worried about won’t go away if you ignore it, talk to your friends and family.

It may help to plan exactly what you want to say and to have the conversation when you're in a car or outside somewhere you're not centre of attention.

People may get upset – they care about you and it’s not an easy situation. But they wouldn’t want you to go through this alone.

Talk to your friends or family
  • Talk to a professional like a doctor or a nurse at your school, university or walk-in centre.

If you’ve got a lot to ask, maybe write down what you want to know so you don’t forget anything. It’s easy to get flustered, so try to check the list at the end of your appointment to make sure you’ve asked everything you wanted to.

If you’re nervous, you could talk through your questions with a friend before your appointment. It’s fine to take someone with you to the appointment too.

Doctors spend all day every day talking about people’s bodies, so there’s no need to be embarrassed. Just try to talk through how you’re feeling as honestly as possible.

Your doctor should listen and let you know what needs to happen next. But if you don’t feel you’re being listened to, say so or ask to see another doctor. And if you don’t understand what a doctor tells you, ask for it to be explained more clearly. There’s no such thing as a silly question, and you can never ask too many questions.

The NHS has made a commitment to offering high-quality cancer care to young people – and that includes making a quick diagnosis and communicating clearly with you.

  • If you do see a doctor or nurse and don’t feel you’re being taken seriously, be persistent.
  • Book another appointment.
  • Take someone with you.
  • See another doctor.
  • Never feel bad about speaking up.

What to ask your doctor

Your doctor will want to know as much as possible about what’s going on, but it’s easy to forget things – so it’s worth writing everything down before your appointment. Think about:

  • What problems you’re having
  • How long you’ve had them
  • Whether the problems are permanent or come and go
  • Whether they are getting worse.

Signs to watch for

If you have any of the symptoms below – and especially if they last for a while and you can’t explain them – get them checked out by a doctor. Don’t panic though – none of these are only caused by cancer.

  • Pain that doesn’t go away quickly when you take painkillers
  • Lumps, bumps and swellings
  • Sudden weight loss when you’re not dieting, stressed or exercising hard
  • Feeling completely exhausted, all of the time
  • Changes to moles – their size or colour, or if they start bleeding
  • Headaches or dizziness that won’t go away
  • Getting out of breath more easily than normal
  • Bleeding you can’t explain
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Ongoing changes when you go to the toilet – like constipation or diarrhoea (or both), pain, or feeling like you’ve not quite finished going
  • Sweating a lot at night.

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