Cancer is one of the deadliest and most painful diseases out there. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of cancer at an early stage is very important in order to get appropriate treatment before it spreads to other parts of the body. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the chance of a successful treatment. Once the disease spreads, it can be difficult to treat.
The signs and symptoms will depend on where the cancer is, how big it is, and how much it affects the organs or tissues. Because cancer is so deadly, can spread so fast, and since no cure has been found, ignoring the signs and symptoms can be fatal.
Here are some common cancer symptoms that you should never ignore:
Unexplained weight loss
Unless you are working out regularly or on a diet, rapid weight loss should not be ignored. When you lose weight for no known reason, it’s referred to as unexplained weight loss. An unexplained and unintentional weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. This occurs most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus (tube connecting the mouth to the stomach) or lung. Moreover, most people with cancer will lose weight at some point.
Fatigue, or extreme tiredness, can be due to stress or working overtime. But if you’re often fatigued and if sufficient rest does not solve the problem, then you may need to check with your doctor. It may be an important symptom that shows the spread of cancer cells in the body. Leukemia, colon, or stomach cancer, which can cause blood loss, can cause fatigue.
Most people suffering from cancer will have fever at some time, especially if the cancer or its treatment affects the immune system, which can make it harder for the body to fight infection. Fever usually happens after the cancer has spread from where it started. It may also be an early sign of blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma. So, If you have fever that just doesn’t go away or recurs frequently without any explanation, don’t ignore it and get yourself checked.
If you have constant, long-lasting and unexplainable pain, which does not seem to go away with basic medication, you need to visit a doctor. Chronic pain is a symptom for either bone, brain or testicular cancer. A headache which never seem to go away may be a symptom of a brain tumor. Continuous back pain may be a symptom of cancer of the colon or ovary.
Because we tend to notice changes in our skin so much, skin cancers are one of the easiest cancers to spot early. Any wart, mole, or freckle that changes color, size, or shape or that loses its sharp border should be checked for melanoma or other types of skin cancer. Moreover, other skin changes that can be symptoms of cancer include itching (pruritis), darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation), yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice), reddened skin (erythema), or excessive hair growth.
Women should not ignore any unusual appearance or feeling in their breasts: these can be symptoms of cancer in breasts. Lumps are not the only sign of breast cancer. Change in skin texture, shape, size, etc. of the breasts also indicate breast cancer. Potential signs and symptoms include the puckering of nipples, pain, tenderness, discharges, and the scaling or itching of skin. Breast cancer affects both men and women.
Persistent cough and hoarseness of voice
In nonsmokers, a persistent cough is usually not cancer and mostly goes away after 3 to 4 weeks. However, if your cough does not go away, and is accompanied by shortness of breath or coughing up blood, then see a doctor right away. This is even more important for those who smoke since these are common symptoms of lung cancer.
Also, if you are an adult and your voice turns coarse or rough suddenly without any reason, consult your doctor, as it can be a sign of cancer of the larynx (voice box) or thyroid gland.
Change in bowel or bladder habits
If you notice any changes in your bladder or bowel function, you need to take precaution. Long-term constipation, diarrhea, or a change in the size of the stool, or blood in 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 linked to bladder or prostate cancer.
White spots in mouth
White patches inside the mouth and white spots on the tongue may be leukoplakia. Leukoplakia is a pre-cancerous condition that’s caused by frequent irritation. It’s often caused by smoking or other tobacco use. If it’s not treated, leukoplakia can become mouth cancer.
Other symptoms you should not ignore
- Difficulty swallowing (cancer of the esophagus, stomach, or throat)
- Chronic heartburn or indigestion (stomach or throat cancer)
- Sores that do not heal (skin cancer or oral cancer)
- Changes in lymph nodes (lymphoma)
- Lumps and other changes in the testicles, in men (testicular cancer)
- Problems when passing urine, in men (prostate cancer)
- Persistent bloating, in women (ovarian cancer)
- Abnormal bleeding, in women (endometrial or cervical cancer)
The signs and symptoms listed above are the more common ones seen with cancer, but there are many others that are not listed here. Developing one or more of these symptoms does not mean you have cancer, or that you’re even likely to have cancer. But if you have one, or if you notice any other big changes in the way your body works or the way you feel, let a doctor know. This is especially true if a symptom lasts for a long time or gets worse. Even if it has nothing to do with cancer, the doctor can find out more about it and, if required, treat it.
Disclaimer: All material on Hidoc.co is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.