16 Potential Warning Signs of Cancer that People Too Often Ignore
Doctors always recommend paying special attention to warning signs that might indicate undiagnosed cancer. Early detection of this disease increases the chances of successful treatment. Although the warning signs and symptoms in this post might not necessarily mean cancer in all cases, you shouldn’t neglect them. Instead, analyze the signs and symptoms you do experience, and then visit your doctor.
There are even more than 200 types of cancer, but in this article we will mention the most common ones: leukemia, melanoma, colorectal, endometrial and pancreatic cancer, lung, breast, prostate, bladder, ovarian, and kidney (renal) cancer. Most of these cancer types are difficult to be successfully treated, especially when it comes to lung cancer, and the main reason is the late detection.
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer. Make sure to consult your doctor immediately if you experience some of them.
- Unexplained Weight Loss
If you notice that you are losing weight for no obvious reason, it could mean that you have lung or breast cancer. When the cancer reaches the liver, it disrupts its function to remove toxins and regulate appetite, thus causing weight loss. However, this can also be a sign of colon cancer.
According to the statistics, 40% of all cancer patients report that they experience sudden weight loss at the time of diagnosis, and up to 80% of advanced cancer cases are experiencing cachexia (general ‘wasting’) and unexplained weight loss.
- Fatigue and Weakness
If you are experiencing constant fatigue and weakness, and you still rest enough and get more sleep, consult your doctor immediately since it can be a symptom of many cancers.
- Frequent Fevers or Infections
As we all know, fever is a sign that your body fights an infection, but if it’s persistent, it can be a sign of lymphoma. Moreover, the cancer of the blood cells, leukemia can cause signs like fatigue, aches, fever, frequent infections and many other flu-related symptoms.
- Shortness of Breath or Wheezing
Lung cancer causes shortness of breath and wheezing, which can also be caused by a lung tumor pressing against and narrowing an airway.
- Chronic cough and Chest Pain
If you notice that you are constantly experiencing bronchitis and a bad cough, it could be a sign of lung cancer or leukemia. However, there is another symptom such as chest painextending down the arm, or into the shoulder. Make sure to consult your doctor as soon as possible. Moreover, if you notice that your voice is hoarse for more than 6 weeks, also consult your doctor immediately, because the cases with horse voice usually indicate laryngeal cancer, lung, thyroid and esophageal cancer.
Ovarian cancer causes frequent bloating for no apparent reason and over a longer period of time. In addition, if you also experience swelling in the abdomen, feeling fullness and pelvic pain, you should definitely consult your health care provider and check whether you have ovarian cancer. Similarly, bloating or pain in the stomach after eating might indicate a stomach cancer.
- Chronic Heartburn
As we all know, acid reflux causes heartburn, but on the other hand, if it’s persistent, it might be related to esophageal cancer or Barrett’s esophagus. According to one study published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology chronic heartburn can cause inflammation of the tissue lining in the esophagus that in turn raises the risk of esophageal cancer.
- Bowel Issues
If you notice unexplained changes In the bowel habits which last for 4 weeks or longer, it can be a sign of bowel cancer. Consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- Difficulty Swallowing
Esophageal or throat cancer causes problems with swallowing and you can even feel chunks of food stuck in your chest or throat that get worse over some period of time. Burning sensation or pain when swallowing are the other two symptoms of this type of cancer. Sadly, in most of the cases the esophageal cancer doesn’t show any initial symptoms, so make sure not to ignore these if they do appear.
You can easily notice this condition because the color of the whites of your eyes and your skin turns into yellow. It is usually a symptom of gallbladder or liver disease, but it can also be a sign of pancreatic cancer which actually disrupts the function of the liver and bile duct.
- Unusual Swelling or Lumps
You should make an appointment with your doctor ASAP if you notice a strange lump on certain areas of your body such as: the abdomen, neck, testicle, underarm, breast and groin area and it lasts for more than 3 weeks. Most commonly a lump or enlarged lymph node under the arm can indicate breast cancer. Moreover, red, sore and swollen breasts can also be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.
- New or Changing Moles or Skin Spots
Even though most of the skin changes are not dangerous and don’t cause pain, doctors still suggest screening for cancer if you notice the following changes:
- new spots, growths, or sores on the skin that don’t heal
- changes in color, symmetry, diameter, or border of your existing mole
- Nail Changes
If you notice some strange changes In your fingernails, they can be warning signs of skin, lung and liver cancer.
- Symptoms of skin cancer are brown or black spots under fingernails.
- Lung cancer is associated with enlarged ends of the nails. This problem is caused by conditions which lower the amount of oxygen in the blood
- Liver cancer causes poor function of the liver which results in white or pale nails.
- Abdominal or Pelvic Pain
Ovarian cancer usually causes pain in the abdomen or pelvic pain followed by pelvic heaviness and changes in the bowel habits. The chances of developing this type of cancer are higher in:
- women diagnosed with colon, breast, uterine, or rectal cancer
- women with a family history of ovarian, colorectal, or breast cancer
- women who have never been pregnant
Morewover, pelvic pain can also be an indicator of leukemia or uterine cancer.
- Unusual Pain Lasting Longer than 4 Weeks
If you start experiencing pain for no reason which comes and goes, or stays for 4 weeks or longer, it could mean that you are suffering from a testicular or bone cancer. Make sure to consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- Abnormal Bleeding
Even though sometimes bleeding is just a sign of an urinary infection, it can stil be a sign of kidney or bladder cancer. On the other hand, blood in stools can indicate bowel cancer, although it is a typical sign of hemorrhoids. Moreover, if you notice bleeding after menopause or between periods, it can be an indicator of uterine or endometrial cancer. Although rarely, sometimes vaginal bleeding can indicate vaginal cancer. Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract is a warning sign of colorectal cancer.
Warning signs of leukemia are excessive and persistent bruising and bleeding. Vomiting or coughing blood is an indicator of lung and esophageal cancer, as well as of stomach cancer. However, abnormal bleeding is not always a symptom of some type of cancer, it can also indicate other serious conditions and diseases. As you can see, you should do the recommended cancer screenings and regular check ups, but you should also pay a close attention to all of the abovementioned signs and symptoms. Better safe than sorry!