At some point in your life, you probably experienced having a cancer scare. It's understandable since cancer is currently the second leading cause of deaths in the United States.
But what really are the signs and symptoms of cancer? Experts have recognized common manifestations. Some of them are specific to a cancer type, while some are observed to occur across all types of the disease. Of course when you have any of these, it doesn't mean that you automatically have cancer. It might be nothing but until you're sure, it's a red flag that you should let your doctor look into.
Remember, early detection is crucial in cancer survival.
Here are the signs and symptoms of cancer you should watch out for:
1. A Sore That Doesn't Heal. This is an ulceration that doesn't go away after a week or two. It's usually found on parts of the body that are frequently exposed: face, arms and hands. People with fair-complexion are prone to this. Sometimes the sores also appear on the mouth and the genital areas.
Probable cancer type: skin cancer, oral cancer
2. A Lump or Thickening. Cancer cells multiply at an abnormally rapid rate thereby forming lumps. These can be as small as a pea or as big as a golf ball. They're often located on the breasts, front of the neck, armpits and groins.
Probable cancer type: cancers of the breast, throat and lymphatics
3. A Persistent Change in Bowel or Bladder Habits. It can be as simple as recurrent diarrhea or constipation. It can manifest as a tolerable but nagging abdominal pain as well as a frequent passing of gas and a change in the size of a stool. A change in bladder function includes urination that is less or more frequent that usual.
Probable cancer type: cancers of the colon, rectum, bladder and prostate
4. A Nagging Cough or Hoarseness. A persistent cough and hoarseness last more than three to four weeks and are not caused by a respiratory infection.
Probable cancer type: cancers of the larynx/throat and lung
5. A Persistent Indigestion or Difficulty in Swallowing. Indigestion may include a queasy feeling after eating, belching, fullness in the chest and heart burn. Trouble in swallowing solids is common in the elderly but still needs to be evaluated.
Probable cancer type: cancers of the esophagus, stomach and pharynx/throat
6. A Change in Wart or Mole. A wart, freckle or a mole gets bigger, loses its sharp border, starts to bleed, turns into a sore, or spreads into nearby skin areas.
Probable cancer type: melanoma skin cancer
7. An Unusual Bleeding or Discharge. Bleeding can come from the nose, ears, mouth, skin, eyes, rectum or genital tract. Blood discharged in the sputum, stool, urine or nipple may also occur. Along with or instead of bleeding, discharges like pus and mucus may drain from any body opening.
Probable cancer type: almost all cancers including breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, cervical cancer, kidney cancer and bladder cancer
8. An Unexplained Weight Loss. Weight loss of 10 pounds of more occurs with no apparent reason.
Probable cancer type: a cancer of the pancreas, lung, stomach or esophagus
9. A Painful Body Part. Pain felt includes headache, back pain, stomach pain, joint pain and bone pain. These pains can have other causes but if frequent, they should be evaluated by a doctor.
Probable cancer type: cancer of the brain, bone, ovary, colon, rectum or testicles
10. An Easy Fatigability. There is extreme tiredness and lack of energy that isn't relieved by rest. Even with light activities, person is quickly exhausted.
Probable cancer type: almost all cancer but may also happen early in leukemia.