Common Cancer Symptoms You May Be Ignoring
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and billions of dollars each year are spent on researching cures for these deadly groups of diseases. Although medical advancements have progressed to the point that cancer is no longer always a "death sentence," early detection saves lives.
Medical professionals and organizations have published information on the most common yet subtle symptoms of cancer. These symptoms can be difficult to recognize, but they’re important to look out for.
Changes in Bowel Movements
Bloody stool, extreme gas, long-term constipation and sudden changes in the frequency with which you go to the bathroom can all be important symptoms of colon and bowel cancers. Unexplainable changes in the size of your stool may also be a cause for concern.
Changes in Urination
Changes in urination habits are common signs of urinary system cancers. Blood in the urine should never be ignored. If you suddenly begin to urinate more often than usual, you should talk to your doctor. When you cannot urinate at all or your flow of urine is restricted, your doctor needs to know.
It's very easy to blame weight gain on eating habits and lack of exercise, but could it be something more? Many cancers alter the body's hormonal balance. That can lead to rapid, unexplainable weight gain. Ovarian cancer is notorious for this troubling symptom.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Under normal circumstances, a person’s weight should generally stay the same. If you’re losing weight, it should be because you’re intentionally counting calories, eating less or taking up a new exercise regimen. When you suddenly lose weight in the absence of lifestyle changes, you should talk with your doctor.
Night sweats (profuse sweating when you sleep) can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes, people with uncontrolled blood sugar or poor regulation of thyroid hormones sweat a lot in their sleep.
The most visible lymph nodes in the body are located in the armpits, the groin and at the sides of the neck, just under the jawline. When the body battles infection, these glands often become swollen with lymph and germ-fighting cells.
Headaches are extremely common signs of a variety of illnesses. Millions of people even suffer from migraine headaches, which can be debilitating and don’t always have a cause or a cure. Malignant brain tumors can also be a cause of frequent headaches.
Wounds That Won't Heal
The body has amazing systems to quickly seal a cut or scrape so that the skin appears to be normal again in days or weeks. When you have a sore or a cut that won’t heal for weeks or months on end, you should be concerned. This could be a symptom of skin cancer.
Ulcers can form in the mouth for many reasons, and most of them heal on their own within a few weeks. They can even be caused by eating too much acidic food. If you don't know of any reason for a mouth ulcer and you get them frequently, you should let your doctor know.
Unfortunately, pain is a part of life for many people. That's why this cancer symptom is so easy to ignore. Pain isn’t normal. It’s a method the body uses to alert us to problems. Malignant tumors can constrict organs and bones, which causes pain.
Patients who have anemia have a low red blood cell count. (There are other types of anemia, but this is the reason behind the most common form.) It can happen for a variety of reasons. Many people don't produce enough iron naturally and need supplements to produce enough red blood cells.
Skin cancer is an extremely common type of cancer. It can be very easy to treat in its initial stages, but, if left unchecked, it can metastasize and become deadly. Moles are the most common symptoms of skin cancer.
If you didn’t get enough sleep last night or you just had a long day of activity, it’s reasonable that you might feel a little tired. If no amount of rest can stop you from feeling tired, you may be suffering from fatigue, which is a symptom of cancer.
A fever is one of the most benign symptoms a person can suffer from, but frequent or long-lasting fevers can also be a symptom of cancer. In normal circumstances, a fever means that the body is fighting against some sort of germ. Cancer can also send the body’s defense systems into overdrive, causing fevers.
While most of us have had the sensation of a lump in our throats from time to time, it shouldn’t last for very long. If you’re always uncomfortable when you swallow, you may have dysphagia. Dysphagia is a medical term for difficulty swallowing.
Many anti-smoking commercials show cancer survivors talking by means of an artificial voice box. Throat cancers and the intense treatment methods necessary to get rid of them can severely damage the voice box. Sometimes, the first sign of throat cancer is hoarseness that won’t go away.
Bleeding Outside of Menstrual Cycle
For teenagers and middle-aged women, menstrual cycles may be irregular. It’s normal to have irregular menstrual cycles when they first begin and during menopause when they start to slow and stop. Outside of those times, vaginal bleeding should stick relatively closely to the 28-day cycle associated with the shedding of the uterine lining.
Itchy Private Parts
Genital and anal itching can be symptoms of a variety of medical problems, such as yeast infections, urinary tract infections and STIs. All of those common medical problems have a root cause and an easy treatment, so the itching should resolve quickly.
When a baby has yellow skin, it's easy to diagnose them with jaundice. Adults can get jaundice too, but the symptoms are not always as obvious. When jaundice happens without any other explainable medical circumstance, it can be a sign of cancer.
A swollen neck can be a sign of multiple subtle cancer symptoms. Neck swelling can happen due to swollen lymph nodes, which could signify cancer of the lymphatic system or the blood system. Neck swelling can also happen because of tumors in the esophagus or throat or even on the spine.
Coughing is a way of removing mucus or an irritant like dust or pollen from the respiratory tract. Over time, coughing can be irritating and damaging to the structures of the respiratory tract. Although a cough can be a symptom of a variety of easily treatable illnesses, a lingering cough can also be a sign of cancer.
Lumps in the breasts and the testicles are signs of breast cancer and testicular cancer, respectively. Everyone knows — or should know —that those areas of the body need to be checked, but lumps in any other part of the body can also be a sign of cancer.
When all of your digestive organ systems are functioning properly together, food goes down and stays down. Belching, vomiting after eating, discomfort after eating and indigestion are all possible signs of cancer. When eating becomes a source of pain and stomach problems, you need to talk to your doctor.
The color and vibrancy of the skin is often an indicator of overall health. Some people are naturally paler than others, but a sudden change in the skin on a person’s face can be a cancer symptom. Especially in children, pallor (skin that looks pale and dull) is a common symptom of leukemia.
If you have a limp, you need to figure out the underlying cause of it. Sometimes tumors in the bone, skin or muscle tissue of the legs and feet cause limping because they inhibit normal movement. This is a very rare sign of cancer, but it’s more common among children who have bone tumors. It’s also a symptom of late-stage bone cancer.
Dizziness that’s severe enough to impair movement or impede normal quality of life often means that there’s a problem with a person’s brain or their nervous system. Sometimes, this dizziness is also associated with nausea and pain in areas like the head and nose.
Heartburn is unique because it’s both a symptom and a cause of cancer. Heartburn happens when corrosive stomach acid lingers in the esophagus. In addition to pain, it can cause scarring and permanent damage to esophageal cells. Over time, this trauma makes a person predisposed to esophageal cancer.
Bloat can happen for a variety of reasons. Many women experience bloating during their menstrual cycles, and eating certain foods can even cause bloating for some people. When bloating starts to happen on a regular basis, there may be a cause for concern.
Inability to Eat as Much
Sudden changes in appetite can be linked to a variety of diseases, but there’s one particular symptom that’s often a strong indicator of stomach cancer. Some people suddenly start to feel stuffed or even bloated after eating far less than they usually do.
Stomach cancer is one of the deadlier forms of cancer because it usually metastasizes to other organs before a patient is diagnosed. Stomachaches are common symptoms of a variety of diseases, but if stomach pains are frequent, unrelenting or severe, stomach cancer should be ruled out.