2 April 2015
Aged Care ReviewsA study has shown that people might be risking their lives, by ignoring possible cancer warning signs. The research was funded by Cancer Research UK, in the form of a questionnaire. 1,700 people who took part in the survey were admitted that they had noticed significant warning signs that they might have cancer. These “red-flag” signs were experienced in the three months before taking part in the study. In a worrying trend, a mere two percent of those people actually believed they could have cancer.
In this study, people were not actually told that the warning signs could indicate the presence of cancer. They were told about symptoms and asked if they had noticed them. Participants were also asked what they believed might have caused the symptoms. Finally, they were questioned whether they thought the symptoms might be serious, and if they had seen a doctor about them. The results from the study demonstrate that most people do not attribute new symptoms to cancer, choosing to blame other things, like arthritis, infection, or simply age.
With almost none of the study group seeking medical help after discover the symptoms, the elderly might be at risk. People are evidently not aware of how to keep an eye out for cancer in their own bodies. This could be alarming for elderly citizens, who are at a higher risk of developing cancer as they age. If you are caring for an aged parent, it is vital that you provide them proper knowledge of the risks of cancer.
Dr Katriina Whitaker was the lead author of the study, and is a senior research fellow with the University College London. She stated that people usually don’t actually have cancer, even if they have warning signs. However, plenty of people do have cancer, or else they have another serious medical issue that should be looked at by a doctor. She also said that all suspicious symptoms need to be checked by a doctor, especially if they remain for any length of time. It seems that people will not want to go through the trouble of seeing a doctor, if they do not think that the cause could be cancer.
What is even more worrying is that larger warning signs of cancer are being ignored by people. This includes things like moles that have changed appearance, and even odd lumps. Similar surveys have shown that people do take note of the strange signs, and acknowledge that they could be a problem. For some reason, cancer does not seem to come to mind when people see these symptoms. Dr Whitaker believes this might be because people were afraid to admit that cancer was a possibility.
In the survey, “alarm” symptoms of cancer, which are considered more serious, were reported by 59 percent of the people who did consult a doctor. The “non alarm” signs of cancer, like tiredness or having a sore throat, were only reported by the remaining 41 percent. These lesser signs need to be reported to doctors, as they can give people a head start on preventing serious problems.
No one wants to think that they could have cancer, especially if they are in a high-risk demographic. The elderly are often used to dealing with various health problems, which come from growing older. Still, many people will avoid even thinking that they might have cancer. While warning signs are often caused by things other than cancer, they should still be looked at by a doctor. It seems that people’s fear of cancer is preventing them from seeking help for less serious medical issues, like diseases.
Sara Hiom is the director for early diagnosis, with Cancer Research UK. She stated that many people believe that it is a waste of time to ask the doctor to look at something seemingly minor. While trying to avoid being a nuisance, many elderly people miss out on important, early treatment. It is never a waste of a doctor’s time to check for things as serious as cancer, and early diagnosis can certainly save lives.
Are you confident enough to help your aging parent watch out for early signs of disease and cancer? Medical healthcare workers are trained to do this, and finding the right people to care for your parents is essential for their ongoing health.
One of the leading problems that people face with dealing with an elderly parent, is ensuring their physical health. If your mother or father found something that could be a sign of a medical issue, do you think they would mention it? If elderly parents are not willing to tell their children about these things, what are the chances that they will tell a doctor? Early prevention is important for dealing with many diseases and medical conditions. Failing to consult with a doctor on time could be dangerous for your aging relatives.