Cancer is a deadly disease but knowing what symptoms to look for can help your doctor discover it early when it is most treatable.
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Some types of cancer cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and divide at a slower rate.
A cancer may cause general symptoms like fever, extreme tiredness (fatigue), or weight loss. This may be because cancer cells use up much of the body’s energy supply, or they may release substances that change the way the body makes energy from food.
Cancer can also cause the immune system to react in ways that produce these signs and symptoms. General symptoms can also have other causes, and are in fact more likely to be caused by something that isn’t cancer. But it’s important to have them checked out, just in case. If cancer is not the cause, a doctor can help figure out what the cause is and treat it, if needed.
Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
1. Excessive/Constant Fatigue
Extreme tiredness that doesn’t get better with rest may be a symptom of several different cancer types including leukemia, colon cancer, or stomach cancer. Between work, social commitments, running errands, and trips to the gym, your average daily activities are enough to make anyone feel wiped out. However, if you feel like you can’t get out of bed, or find yourself needing a significant amount of extra rest, it might be the sign of something more serious.
Cancer uses your body’s nutrients to grow and advance, so those nutrients are no longer replenishing your body. This “nutrient theft” can make you feel extremely tired. There are lots of underlying causes of fatigue, many of them not cancer-related. If your symptoms are severe enough to affect your quality of life, call your doctor.
2. Unexplained Weight Loss
Are you dropping pounds without changing your diet or exercise habits? Call your doctor – even if you think they’re pounds you need to lose. Losing ten or more pounds for no known reason can be a sign of pancreatic, stomach, esophageal or lung cancer. Losing 10 pounds or more that isn’t on purpose may be a sign of cancer. This happens most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus (tube connecting the mouth to the stomach), or lung.
Sometimes cancer can affect the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infection that causes fever. It can also be an early sign of leukemia or lymphoma. Fever can be a common symptom of routine colds and the flu. Often, it’s nothing to worry about. But, certain characteristics of fever can foretell a possible cancer connection. You should pay particular attention to any form of fever.
4. Skin Changes
Our skin is the largest organ of our body and can be a window into our overall health. So any wart, mole, or freckle that changes colour, size, or shape, or that loses its sharp border should be checked for melanoma or other types of skin cancer. Other skin changes that can be symptoms of cancer include darker looking skin, yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice), reddened skin, itching, or excessive hair growth.
5. Unusual Bleeding
Coughing up blood may be a sign of lung cancer. Blood in the stool (which can look like very dark or black stool) could be a sign of colon cancer. Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer. Blood in the urine may be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer. A bloody discharge from the nipple may be a sign of breast cancer.
6. Indigestion Or Trouble Swallowing
A prolonged painful burning sensation in your throat or chest shouldn’t be ignored – even if you suspect it’s from eating spicy food. Don’t think that regular indigestion or trouble swallowing is a normal part of aging either. It can be a sign of esophageal, stomach or throat cancer.
7. Persistent Pain
Bone cancer or testicular cancer may cause abdominal or stomach pains. A headache that does not go away or get better with treatment may be a symptom of a brain tumor. Back pain can be a symptom of cancer of the colon or ovary. However, Pain is another symptom that can be caused by a multitude of things, many of them routine, but it can also hint at an underlying disease. And persistent pain, no matter the location, can be the first sign that something’s wrong.
8. Abnormal Lump
Have you recently felt a mass or lump right below your skin? This may be a sign of cancer. Lumps normally show up in the breast, testicles, lymph nodes (glands) and the soft tissues of the body, like tendons and ligaments. Some breast cancers show up as red or thickened skin rather than a lump. Here is what to do: Report it to your doctor immediately, especially if you just found it, or it has grown in size.
9. Persistent Cough Or Hoarseness
Do you have a nagging cough that lasts more than three weeks, it is a sign that something is wrong. And whether you smoke or not, a cough that doesn’t go away can be a sign of lung cancer Hoarseness can be a sign of cancer of the voice box (larynx) or thyroid gland. Persistent hoarseness, wheezing, shortness of breath or coughing up blood are also signs to call your doctor right away.
10. Changes In Your Mouth
White patches inside your mouth or white patches on your tongue may be Leukoplakia (Leukoplakia is a pre-cancerous area that is caused by frequent irritation). If left untreated, these areas can turn into oral cancer. Sores, unexplained bleeding, numbness or tenderness in the area around your mouth like your tongue, lips and cheeks should tell you that it is time for a check-up. This type of cancer symptoms is often caused by smoking or other tobacco use and can become mouth cancer if not treated.
11. Change In Bowel Or Bladder Habits
Long-term constipation, diarrhea, or a change in size of the stool may be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. Pain when passing urine, blood in the urine, or a change such as needing to go more or less often than usual could be related to bladder or prostate cancer.
12. Sores That Do Not Heal
Skin cancers may bleed and look like sores that don’t heal. A long-lasting sore in the mouth could be an oral cancer, especially in people who smoke, chew tobacco, or often drink alcohol. Sores on the genital area may either be signs of infection or an early cancer.
Too much food, alcohol, or stress (or all three) can cause serious heartburn. studies suggests that you change your diet for a week or two to see if your symptoms get better. If that doesn’t help, talk to your doctor. Heartburn that doesn’t go away or gets worse could mean cancer of the stomach, throat, or ovaries. Also, persistent heartburn can damage the lining of your esophagus and lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. The condition raises the risk of developing throat.
Although bloating has many causes, from hormonal changes to increased salt intake, it can also be a symptoms of digestive cancers, like colony and stomach cancers, as well as cancers of the reproductive system and pancreas. Constant bloating could be a sign of cancer, including breast, colon, gastrointestinal, ovarian, pancreatic, or uterine.
While there are countless medical issues leading to millions of anemia diagnoses, cancer can occasionally be a contributing factor to this common ailment.
Cancers involving the blood and bone marrow, including bone cancer, myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma, can all contribute to the underproduction of healthy red blood cells. Bleeding in the digestive tract caused by stomach and colon cancer can also contribute to anemia.