No matter how seemingly minor, some secrets may be best kept under wraps. No one needs to know how often you wash your sheets or secretly watch cheesy Christmas movies when alone.
Regarding your health, there’s no such thing as too much information. Doctors need to know what you’re experiencing, if you have any symptoms—no matter how gross—and if they’re worsening.
That’s especially true with potential cancer symptoms. Identifying cancer symptoms early often results in more available and less invasive treatment options and more substantial outcomes. Ignoring signs too long may lead to detecting the disease in advanced stages, posing more treatment challenges. Most cancer deaths have been attributed to metastasis, when cancer has spread beyond the primary tumor.
Patients, however, are tight-lipped when revealing symptoms they may consider embarrassing. Who wants to talk about blood in the stool or an unusual fluid discharge? And they may be concerned about the eventual diagnosis or the associated diagnostic poking and prodding that may result from revealing symptoms.
“There are many reasons why people delay care,” says Anthony Perre, MD, Intake Physician at City of Hope Atlanta. “Being frightened is certainly one of them.”
But indications from a United Kingdom study suggest it’s more than fear driving the aversion. A 2019 British healthcare group BUPA survey found that 35 percent of Brits put off getting bowel cancer symptoms checked because they’re embarrassed.
“It’s key that we normalize conversations about bowel movements and poo for people to stop feeling embarrassed and come forward if they’re experiencing symptoms,” Dr. Diana Tait, Clinical Oncologist at BUPA’s Cromwell Hospital, said in the survey report. Don’t put it off—early diagnosis does save lives.”