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If you find you are worrying that you may have cancer, the best way to put your mind at rest is to visit your GP with your concerns. If you do have cancer then getting a diagnosis as early as possible will make it much easier to treat, and if you don’t then you can explore other reasons why you might be experiencing any symptoms you’ve had.

Because there are so many different types of cancer, symptoms can sometimes be vague and often seem unrelated. To help with this we have created a symptom checklist which you can download, print and take with you to an appointment with your GP.

According to a study in England, 1 in 5 people with cancer have to visit their GP at least 3 times before getting a diagnosis, and this becomes more likely to be the case if you are younger or from BAME communities. GPs have told us that one reason it can take a few appointments before patients are referred for cancer tests is because the word “cancer” was not mentioned during the appointment, and focus was given to individual symptoms. By saying that you are worried about cancer and by showing them your printed list of symptoms, you can have an honest discussion about cancer at the earliest stages. The chances are that your GP will be able to explain why it is unlikely to be associated with cancer, but at least this can help put your mind at rest.

Getting a GP appointment can be challenging and as well as being on hold on the phone for a long time, calls are often triaged by the receptionist. It is important that you persevere, putting it off just means that you have more time worrying and if it is cancer,  then getting diagnosed as early as possible would be the best thing you can do.

Tips for getting an appointment:

  • Have your symptoms written down in front of you so that you can list all of them to the receptionist.

  • If you are calling about tiredness, using the words “fatigue” or “tired all the time” will be recognised as more important.

  • If you are worried about cancer, say so to the receptionist, it will help them realise that you need to speak to a GP sooner.

  • Don’t be afraid to tell them what you need, i.e. a female/male doctor, an in person appointment or a translator.

  • Calling first thing in the morning is the best thing for same day/ emergency appointments, but calling later in the day may mean their phonelines are less busy.

  • If you are able to physically visit the and speak to the receptionist, it may save you time waiting on the phone.

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, our free Support Line is there for you. Just call 0808 808 1010