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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

PHA urges public to be aware of signs and symptoms on World Cancer Day

World cancer day graphic

On World Cancer Day (Sunday 4th February), the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging people to take notice of their bodies and reach out to their GP if they feel something isn’t right.  

Dr Louise Herron, Deputy Director of Public Health at the PHA said:

“Everyone knows what is ‘normal’ for them and it’s important to be aware of any changes in your body but there are some common changes and symptoms to look out for and act on. Being aware of the general signs and symptoms of cancer can help in early detection and increase your chance of survival.

“Cancer is a common condition. It is estimated that around 1-in-2 of us will develop some form of cancer in our lifetime.”

Some signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • coughing up blood;

  • blood in urine;

  • blood mixed through bowel motion (stools);

  • a change in bowel habit that lasts for three weeks or more;

  • unexplained, significant weight loss (5kg/10lbs over a couple of months);

  • a lump anywhere on your body;

  • changes on your skin or to an existing mole (such as itching, bleeding or a change in shape or colour);

  • a sore that doesn’t heal;

  • symptoms that refuse to clear up, for example a cough or hoarseness that lasts for more than three weeks.

Dr Herron continued:

“If you notice any of these symptoms and you feel something isn’t right, do not hesitate to contact your GP. In many cases, these symptoms will turn out to be a sign of something far less serious, but it is always best to get them checked out. If it is cancer, an early diagnosis means treatment is more likely to be successful.”

As well as being aware of the signs and symptoms there are also some steps you can take to reduce your risk of cancer including:

  • Stop smoking. Visit  for tips on helping you to quit and information on support services available.

  • Keep alcohol consumption within safer limits. Advice on this can be found at

  • Exercise regularly and aim to keep your weight within the recommended BMI range. Visit for more information on simple steps that can help maintain a healthy weight.

  • Avoid over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Use sunscreen, seek shade, wear sun glasses and a hat when in the sun and particularly when the UV index is 3 or more. Avoid using sunbeds. Check your skin regularly for any changes. Visit for more information.

  • Attend for screening when invited. For more information on Northern Ireland screening programmes visit


For more information on the signs and symptoms of cancer see


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