Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Urgent warning of ‘silent killer’ which may appear first as a sore throat – get checked out now

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BRITS have been warned of a ‘silent killer’ disease that at first appears to be just a common sore throat.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the sixth most common cancer in adults, but many are still unaware of the symptoms to look out for.

Getty – Contributor

Brits are being urged to get checked for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – which at first may seem like a common sore throat[/caption]

Media Scotland

Dad-of-three Graeme Stirling woke up with a sore throat before receiving the devastating diagnosis – and is speaking out so others know what to watch out for[/caption]

The silent killer beat father-of-three Graeme Stirling two years ago and he’s now sharing his experience to urge others to get any symptoms checked.

The 62-year-old first woke up with a sore throat in May 2020, but had no idea it could be fatal.

The senior consultant from Dunfermline, Scotland, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after previously thinking he would shrug off a mild illness quickly.

But after ignoring the symptoms, he later rushed to his GP when he found a lump on his neck.

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It turned out to be a swollen lymph node and Graeme received a devastating diagnosis of cancer.

The father-of-three says he doesn’t think he “would still be here” if he hadn’t noticed the bump when he did and rushed to the doctors.

Graeme told the Daily Record: “Honestly I wasn’t concerned about my health as I was still fine and healthy but I woke up with a sore throat.

“I had sprayed the fence with antifungal so I thought I had damaged my tonsils.

“But it developed into a lump on the right side of my neck.

“When the lump developed I went to the doctor straight away, I had kind of thought about it because my tonsils felt like they were a bit inflamed.”

Charlotte Bloodworth, an Advanced Clinical Practitioner at the University Hospital of Wales and a spokesperson for Lymphoma Action, urged anyone with symptoms to act quickly.

She said: “Lymphoma is less well known than other cancers so it’s important to raise awareness so more people can get treatment sooner. The later the presentation, the more difficult treatment can be.

“Sometimes people present with a neck or armpit lump that hasn’t gone away but feels good, others may have a lymphoma mass that can’t be felt and is detected on a routine scan for a different reason.”

If I had left it, I don’t even know if I would still be here

Graem Stirling

Graeme added that the pandemic meant he was having to wait until he could be treated – a delay that caused him to develop lumps in his groin as well.

His diagnosis was what is known as mantle cell lymphoma – a form of Non-Hodgkin’s disease that causes white blood cells to become abnormal and pool in your lymph nodes.

The father of three then underwent intensive treatment which he believes affected him more than the cancer itself.

“It was pretty intense,” he said.

“It started with three months of chemotherapy, then a stem cell transplant a few months later.

“The only time I felt sick during this whole thing was halfway through my chemotherapy.

“The treatment had a 50 to 60 percent chance of success, and even success would likely mean it wouldn’t go away, as there’s a 30 to 40 percent chance it could return.

“It could be controlled, but it couldn’t be cured, which is a message to take a little time to ponder in your mind.”

Graeme was forced to remain isolated at Edinburgh’s Western General for almost a month while receiving treatment during the pandemic – an ordeal he described as “terrible”.

Thankfully, after another year of treatment, he finally got the all-clear and raised over £2,000 for cancer charity Lymphoma Action by completing a 10k race just four months after his recovery.


Graeme celebrated his first year as a survivor in June but believes things could have been very different had he not acted quickly.

He is now urging people not to ignore any signs or suspicions and “see as soon as possible”.

“Even people who have friends or family members who may be showing symptoms but aren’t doing anything about it, encourage them — march them to the doctors,” he added.

“The worst thing they will tell you is that you have cancer, but the best that can happen is that you don’t. You probably don’t have it, but it’s always better to know.”

Charlotte added that the father’s active lifestyle could have masked his suspicions, saying the silent killer “has nothing to do with lifestyle or behavior and can develop at any age, affecting both adults and children.”

“However, different types of lymphoma are more common at different times in your life.

“For example, Hodgkin lymphoma is more common between the ages of 15 and 40, and many types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are more common later in life.

“If you have one or more of the symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have lymphoma. Many of these are also symptoms of other health problems, such as uncontrolled diabetes or infections.

“It is so important that you go to your GP to have any concerns evaluated.”

What are the symptoms of lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma affects more than 14,000 Britons each year and is the sixth most common cancer in adults in the UK.

Signs and symptoms of the disease can include:

  • abdominal pain or swelling
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • chest pain, difficulty breathing, or cough
  • Persistent fatigue
  • fever or night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss

The only way to confirm a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is with a biopsy.

The main treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Media Scotland

Graeme raised over £2,000 for cancer charity Lymphoma Action by running a 10K just four months after recovering[/caption]

Media Scotland

He urges anyone with symptoms to seek medical help[/caption]

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