The 5 common cold symptoms which could be signs of cancer | The Sun

IT'S the time of year again when people spend much of their time coughing, sneezing and displaying symptoms of the common cold. 

The odd sniffle is usually nothing to worry about – but in some cases, it can be a sign of something much more serious.

Around 12,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with head and neck cancers every year, according to Cancer Research UK.

They affect the mouth, nose and throat, but remain relatively obscure for millions of Brits.

Dr Jiri Kubes, medical director of the cancer facility Proton Therapy UK, said head and neck cancer can often be complex to recognise because the symptoms are similar to the everyday cold.

He said: "Persistently blocked ears, as you might get after diving into a swimming pool, or chronic earache, could be a sign there's cancer in and around that area.

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"Swelling in part of the neck, or some resistance when touching that area of the body, could also indicate something wrong.

"A sore throat that lasts more than two weeks, or if you have any voice changes or hoarseness, should ring alarm bells."

Here are the cold-like symptoms to watch out for – and the cancers they could be a sign of:

1. Sore throat

We all get a sore throat from time to time. It can feel itchy, make it hard to swallow and even make your mouth taste bad.

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According to the NHS, a sore throat is usually a symptom of strep throat, the common cold, allergies, or other upper respiratory tract illnesses, like the flu.

However, persistent pain in the throat is one of the most common symptoms of throat cancer.

There are several types of throat cancer, including cancer of the voice box (laryngeal) and the vocal cords (glottic).

Other signs of throat cancer are a cough, changes to the voice, ear pain and difficulty swallowing.

2. Swelling of the neck

Having a slightly swollen or sore neck is usually a sign your body is fighting off an infection, like a cold, the flu or even glandular fever.

The pain will come from your glands, which will feel like tender lumps on either side of your neck.

In the cases of a superficial infection, swollen glands, also known as lymph nodes, will go down within one to two weeks, according to the NHS.

If they last longer than a fortnight, they could be a sign of something more serious, like cancer of the blood (leukaemia) or lymph system (lymphoma).

This is especially the case if they are painless and appear to grow in size.

Other signs of leukaemia include fever, chills, frequent infections, easy bruising and recurrent nosebleeds.

While common lymphoma signs are swollen lymph nodes all over the body, fatigue, night sweats and itching.

3. Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are very common and should clear up on their own within a week.

They usually appear inside the mouth, on the cheeks, lips or tongue.

According to the NHS, they can be triggered by several things, such as food allergies, feeling run down and in some cases, cancer – especially if they don't go away.

Ulcers are the most common symptom of mouth cancer, according to Macmillian.

Other signs include weight loss, speech problems, pain in your mouth and bad breath.

4. Blocked or stuffy ears

Having blocked or stuffy ears that muffle sounds is a common sign of a nasty cold.

It usually happens when the eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the throat, become inflamed.

The NHS says a less common culprit of blocked ears is a rare cancer called nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

It affects the part of the throat which connects the back of the nose to the back of the mouth.

Someone with the disease may have ear pain, a swollen face, a discharge of pus and blood from the nose, swollen lymph nodes, and nosebleeds.

5.Hoarse voice

A change in the voice is usually a sign of laryngitis – when the voice box or vocal cords in the throat become irritated or swollen.

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It can leave you sounding hoarse and breathy, or make you lose your voice entirely.

But if the voice remains changed for over three weeks, it could be a sign of laryngeal cancer, as detailed previously.

When to see a GP

See your GP if you have any of these symptoms and they haven't improved after three weeks.

It's very unlikely these symptoms will be caused by head or neck cancer, but it's best to get them checked out, the NHS explains.

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