IT seems there’s always an awareness month, week or event for some form of cancer on all the time. And yet it saddens and surprises me to know that our city remains one of the places where cancer presents at its latest stage. This means that often people have ignored the early signs and only seek medical help when the disease has progressed and becomes more difficult to treat or actually terminal. This is really upsetting when you think that we know exactly what symptoms we should be looking out for and when we should seek help. I thought I would use this month’s column to list a few symptoms that should ALWAYS prompt a trip to the doctor: If you cough-up blood If you have had a cough for more than 4 weeks If there is blood in your wee (urine)? If food is getting stuck when you swallow If you vomit blood If you have bleeding from your bum (back passage) If you are going for a poo more often and it’s looser or more runny for more than 2 weeks If you have a mole that appears suddenly, grows, bleeds, itches or looks in any way different. For the men…. If you find a lump in your scrotum (balls) If you’re having problems passing urine. And some just for the ladies… If you start bleeding again more than a year after your last period. If you find a lump in your breast or anything leaking out of your nipple If you feel constantly bloated in your tummy. If you bleed after having sex Forget embarrassing bodies! This is important stuff that could actually save your life. None of these symptoms mean you actually have cancer. In many cases your GP can do simple examinations, blood tests or scans to reassure you without needing to go near a hospital. The battle against cancer will only be won if we catch it early so any of these symptoms MUST be investigated. It’s the right thing to do. Don’t put it off! The people of this great city are fantastically good at fighting against injustice and making our feelings known. It really winds me up that we seem to be shrinking violets when it comes to our own bodies. It’s just not the Liverpool way! It’s tough but we’re winning The recent junior doctors’ dispute has highlighted how difficult life on the frontline of the NHS is at the moment. There are lots of stories about a crisis in General Practice nationally with practices closing or struggling to recruit doctors. Thankfully, in Liverpool, things are nowhere near as bleak. Practices are working together across neighborhoods to improve the services we offer and working with our Clinical Commissioning Group to add an extra 5,500 GP & Nurse consultations in the city last year. We will be starting to open for longer at evenings and weekends in parts of the city this year too. The Care Quality Commission has inspected 55 Liverpool practices and rated 48 of them good and one outstanding. There are also special projects in the city for young people and to prevent social isolation in older people Yes, it’s busy in General Practice at the moment but we’re working really hard to improve the care our patients receive. Our practices our committed to working together to deliver services that our fit for the future. Old wives’ tales Carrots help you see in the dark – Carrots are rich in vitamin A which helps the parts of your eyes responsible for night vision so there is a grain of truth in this one. It’s still much safer to put the lights on though! Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis – Nope! The noises made when you crack your knuckles are made by soft tissue structures and don’t affect the joints. It does really annoy my wife though!