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Recognising the signs & symptoms of cancer in young peopleCreated by Lisa in Health and Safety
Teenage years are supposed to be the best years of your life but for six young people every day, treat life seems to stop when they hear the devastating news they have cancer.
One minute life is about hanging out with mates, erectile learning to drive, sales or getting your first job, the next, it’s on hold and you’re in a hospital ward, frightened and alone. To make matters worse, many young people with cancer never meet another young person going through the same experience.
Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival of young people aged 13 to 24. We want to make sure every one of them has access to the best possible care and professional support from the point of diagnosis.
Although cancer in young people is rare it’s important to recognise the warning signs. Some signs and symptoms of cancer are similar to other less harmful problems your grandchild may experience throughout their life. Nobody knows their body better than them so it’s important they are ready to spot if something changes. If they are ever worried about any of these signs and symptoms, get them to speak to their GP.
When visiting their GP it’s important to make sure the doctor listens to them. If you or they feel that they aren’t being listened to and questions have not been answered then encourage them to speak to another doctor and keep talking until someone does listen.
Since 1995 Teenage Cancer Trust has been running a pioneering education and advocacy programme offering free cancer awareness sessions to schools, colleges and universities across the UK, about cancer and prevention, myths, types of cancer treatments and healthy living.
Within these sessions we highlight that cancer symptoms are unexplained (you don’t know what’s causing them) AND persistent (may not go away OR always come back OR gradually get worse).
The five common signs of cancer in young people are:
- Pain (that doesn’t go away with painkillers)
- A lump, bump or swelling
- Extreme tiredness (meaning they find it hard to stay awake)
- Significant weight loss (more than a few pounds)
- Changes in a mole
The most common types of cancer that affect the 13-24 year old age group are:
- Bone cancer – A tumour that grows inside a bone
- Soft tissue sarcomas– Cancers of supportive tissue, which includes muscle, cartilage, fat cells and blood vessels
- Brain tumours – Cancers that affect the brain and it’s supportive tissue
- Skin cancer – The most common cancer in young women in the UK aged between 15-24
- Lymphoma – Cancer of the lymphatic system, part of the body’s immune system
- Leukaemia – Cancer of the cells in bone marrow, where new blood cells are made
- Testicular cancer – Makes up nearly a third of all cancers in young men
- Ovarian cancer – Starts in the ovaries, where women produce eggs
- Cervical cancer – Forms in tissue of the cervix
- Thyroid cancer – The thyroid is a gland in the neck, which produces hormones which control growth and development
If a young person is diagnosed with cancer then Teenage Cancer Trust is here to support them. Teenage Cancer Trust believes young people’s lives shouldn’t stop because they have cancer and we treat them as young people first, cancer patients second. We know how damaging it is to take a young person away from their everyday life, their friends and family and put them in a hospital ward with small children or older people. We also know that young people have a much better chance in their fight against cancer if they are treated by teenage cancer experts, in an environment designed just for them.
That’s why we build specialist units in NHS hospitals, bringing young people together where they can receive the very best specialist treatment and also support each other. Currently we have 22 units across the UK and plan to build a further ten. Our units aren’t like ordinary cancer wards. They are designed to feel like places young people might naturally hang out. The walls are bright, the furniture is funky, there might be pool tables and a jukebox and there’s always a place to watch films and surf the net. Alongside all of this is a medical team of teenage cancer specialists with expertise that’s second to none.
By Teenage Cancer Trust
We rely solely on donations to fund our vital work. You can help transform the lives of young people with cancer. Visit www.teenagecancertrust.org to find out how. To arrange a free cancer awareness session from Teenage Cancer Trust’s Education Programme email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7612 0370.