Symptoms of UK’s most common cancers as MAFS star reveals diagnosis

Image of Mel Schilling, who has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer. (Getty Images)
Married At First Sight star Mel Schilling has revealed she has been diagnosed with colon cancer. (Getty Images)

Married At First Sight star Mel Schilling has shared that she has been diagnosed with colon cancer, after believing her symptoms were down to constipation.

The dating coach revealed on Instagram that she was given the diagnosis last week and is due to start treatment in hospital straight away.

Alongside a photo with her husband and daughter, Schilling explained how she had developed "severe stomach cramps" a month ago while filming in Australia and was initially told by a doctor she could be constipated.

"Fortunately I knew something still wasn't right so I booked in for a scan when I returned to the UK," she continued her post. "On Thursday I was told I had colon cancer and in an instant, my whole life changed.

"This week I had planned to travel to Northern Ireland with my family to spend Christmas with loved ones.

"Instead tomorrow morning I'm checking in to the hospital to have an operation to remove a 5cm tumour in my colon, a tumour that had it gone undetected for much longer would have killed me."

Fortunately, Schilling revealed that her prognosis is good, and she's expected to make a full recovery, despite having a "rough road ahead".

"It will be so tough to spend Xmas Day in hospital instead of being surrounded by family but getting rid of Terry (what I've named my tumour) will be the best present of all," she added.

"I just wanted to finish by saying that if something doesn’t feel right, please, please don't ignore it and if you don't think the answers you have got are right, keep going until you do, it might just save your life."

New research has revealed cases of cancer in under 50s has soared. (Getty Images)
New research has revealed cases of cancer in under 50s has soared. (Getty Images)

Schilling's diagnosis comes as it was revealed that cancer cases among the under 50s have soared by 79% globally over the past three decades.

While cancer tends to be more common in older people, the data suggests that cases among the under 50s have been rising in many parts of the world since the 1990s.

The study, published by BMJ Oncology, looked at data from the Global Burden of Disease 2019 Study for 29 cancers in 204 countries and regions.

Breast cancer accounted for the highest number of "early onset" cases in 2019, but cancer of the windpipe and prostate cancer have risen the fastest since 1990. Liver cancer cases saw the biggest fall.

Cancers with the heaviest death toll and compromising health the most among younger adults in 2019 were those of the breast, windpipe, lung, bowel, and stomach.

Researchers said it’s still not clear to what extent screening and early life exposure to environmental factors may be influencing the observed trends, but forecast the trend will continue with those in their 40s the most at risk.

Watch: Chrissy Teigen decided to check for colon cancer

The UK's most common cancers

One in two people will develop some type of cancer during their lifetime. While this can feel scary, it also gives an incentive to pay more attention to possible symptoms of the disease, to help catch anything early, and hopefully have a better outcome.

Of course, there are hundreds of different types of cancer, making it hard to be aware of each one, but having a basic understanding of the four most common types in the UK – breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer – is a good place to start.

So, let's find out a little more about the UK's four most common cancer types, and the signs and symptoms to be aware of, as guided by the NHS.

1. Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, accounting for three in 20 (15%) of all cases in females and males combined.

The best way to discover any symptoms is to check them regularly for changes and look out for a lump or area of thickened breast tissue. While lumps are likely not cancerous, if found, it's important to have them examined professionally.

Other than lumps, symptoms to look out for include:

  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts

  • discharge from either of your nipples (which may contain blood)

  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits, dimples

  • a rash around the nipple, and a change in the nipple's appearance

Young African American woman palpating her breast by herself that she concern about breast cancer. Healthcare and breast cancer concept
A lump is one of the most important symptoms to check for for breast cancer. (Getty Images)

2. Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is often very slow to develop, so people may live with it for a few years without noticing any symptoms at all.

According to the NHS, prostate cancer symptoms can include:

  • needing to pee more frequently, often during the night

  • needing to rush to the toilet

  • difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)

  • straining or taking a long time while peeing

  • weak flow

  • feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully

  • blood in urine or blood in semen

For some men the first symptoms of prostate cancer occur when it has spread beyond the prostate gland to the bones and these can include back pain, loss of appetite, pain in the testicles and unexplained weight loss.

Whatever pain, discomfort or symptoms you feel, it is always best to discuss these with your GP.

Needing to pee more often is one of the potential signs of prostate cancer. (Getty Images)
Needing to pee more often is one of the potential signs of prostate cancer. (Getty Images)

3. Lung cancer

Another common type is lung cancer, which is also one of the most serious, affecting around 47,000 people in the UK every year.

In terms of spotting symptoms early, it can be more tricky with this type of cancer as they usually don't show in early stages.

However, many people with lung cancer will eventually develop symptoms that might include:

  • a persistent cough

  • coughing up blood

  • persistent breathlessness

  • unexplained tiredness and weight loss

  • an ache or pain when coughing.

Man coughing while working on a computer from home
Symtpoms for lung cancer include persistent coughing and coughing up blood. (Getty Images)

4. Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is the overall term given to cancer that begins in the large bowel – depending on where it starts, it is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer.

Almost nine in 10 people diagnosed with bowel cancer are aged 60 or over, with contributing factors to the disease including age, diet, weight, exercise, alcohol, smoking, and family history.

The main symptoms are:

  • persistent blood in poo (that doesn't occur for any obvious reason)

  • a persistent change in your bowel habit (e.g. needing to poo more, or it changing in consistency)

  • persistent lower tummy pain, bloating or discomfort (caused by eating, and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss).

If you are nervous about speaking to your GP about any of the above symptoms, or any other possible cancer signs, you can seek advice about how to prepare and what questions to ask at the appointment, as well as discuss any other cancer concerns, by calling Macmillan's helpline on 0808 808 00 00.

Abdominal pain patient woman having medical exam with doctor on illness from stomach cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic discomfort, Indigestion, Diarrhea, GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
There are three main symptoms for bowel cancer. (Getty Images)

Additional reporting SWNS.