Illness associated with the Victorian era now infects hundreds of children a week, with no apparent reason for its return
Thousands of children are being infected with scarlet fever as the once feared Victorian disease, a leading cause of infant deaths in the early 20th century, makes a startling comeback.
Cases of scarlet fever have reached a 50-year high, with more than 17,000 cases confirmed last year – the highest since the 1960s. There have been more than 6,100 cases since September last year, and the peak season is from now until the middle of April. Around 600 cases are currently being recorded each week. Family doctors across the country are now being told to keep watch for scarlet fever by Public Health England, and parents are being told how to spot the symptoms.
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Filed under: NHS, Scarlet fever, symptoms
A lump in the breast, sudden weight loss and blood in the stools. We think we know the signs of cancer. Except we don’t – and now experts are encouraging people to be more aware of less-known symptoms that could signal early disease and report them to their GPs. Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine shows England has some of the poorest survival rates in the Western world for common cancers such as colon, breast, lung, ovarian and stomach. In the UK, one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and the disease is responsible for a quarter of all deaths. According to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence(Nice), about 5,000 lives a year could be saved by making earlier diagnoses.
But what are we looking for? “A lot of the early symptoms of cancer will be vague and non-specific,” says Peter Johnson, professor of medical oncology at Southampton University and lead clinician for Cancer Research UK. “It’s these that people need to be aware of and report to their doctors. But we’re not good at paying attention to our own bodies, to what’s normal for us, so we ignore minor symptoms which occasionally can be caused by early cancer.”
The good news is that most cancers are curable if caught in the early stages, says Dr David Bloomfield, clinical oncologist at the Sussex Cancer Centre, Royal Sussex County Hospital, and medical director for the Royal College of Radiologists. “Be aware of the red flags [see box below], but if something else is unexplained and unusual for you and doesn’t get better in a couple of weeks, get it checked out,” he says.
Together we have worked with Cancer Research UK and Britain’s leading oncologists to come up with a list of vague symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored.
Click on the ink to read the 10 symptoms
Artwork depicting cancer cells dividing
Filed under: Cancer, Cancer, symptoms