We have all experienced illness, and sometimes, symptoms that we are feeling can lead us to think that it could be indicative of a serious health issue. So, how do we know if what we are feeling is a sign of cancer?
Cancer is not a favorite topic, but most of us know all too well the effects of this dreaded disease. Sometimes, signs of cancer are obvious, but often, they are not. This is why it is so important to be aware of the early warning signs of cancer.
Early detection can lead to better chances of successful outcomes and higher survival rates. The American Cancer Society says that when cancer is found early, it is typically smaller and in a more localized area. Treatment options at this stage are generally less aggressive and more effective. Early detection also reduces the risk of cancer spreading to other areas in the body, leading to better treatment options and prognosis. Plus, with less aggressive methods, the cost of cancer therapies can also be greatly reduced.
With advances in cancer research, detection, and treatment options continue to grow. However, it is important to know some early warning signs that can signify cancer. Early detection and cancer care can make a significant difference in prognosis.
According to Cancer.org, some symptoms in particular should not be ignored.
Significant weight loss, especially when it is unintended, can be one of the early warning signs of cancer. A loss of 5% body weight or more within a few months can occur in various cancers, such as lung, esophageal, pancreatic, and stomach cancers. Even if appetite is normal, cancer cells can cause a change in metabolism and lead to weight loss.
Melanoma and other skin cancers can cause existing moles to change shape, color, and size. New lesions on the skin can also be a sign of skin cancer. Have any moles that are larger than a pencil eraser, asymmetrical, have irregular borders, or change color checked by your doctor as soon as possible. Check your skin regularly to monitor any changes.
Unexplained or continual fatigue is sometimes a symptom of blood cancers, such as lymphoma or leukemia. These cancers prevent the body from producing healthy blood cells, causing anemia, which in turn leads to fatigue.
Persistent pain that does not improve with rest or treatment or does not appear to have a clear cause could be an indication of certain cancers. Pain in the bones that continues or gets worse instead of better could signify bone cancer or cancer elsewhere in the body that has metastasized to the bones. Symptoms of ovarian or pancreatic cancer include pain in the abdomen or pelvic region.
Everyone has an off day, but persistent changes in regular bowel habits could indicate colorectal cancer. Symptoms include diarrhea, ongoing constipation, or changes in stool shape or size, like pencil-thin stools. Common symptoms of bladder or kidney cancer are changes in bladder habits, blood seen in the urine, pain while urinating, and increased frequency during urination.
While coughing is not generally a cause of concern, a persistent cough that lingers for over a month should be checked by your doctor. If the cough is bringing up blood or if there is continual hoarseness to the voice, this could be a sign of cancers of the throat, esophagus, or lung.
Bleeding without a cause or unexpected bleeding can signify several different types of cancer. For example, postmenopausal bleeding can be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer, while blood in the stool might indicate colorectal cancer.
It is important to note that these are warning signs, and if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is not a clear indication of cancer. But suppose you do notice any of the above symptoms, and they seem unusual or persist. In that case, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and diagnosis. Early detection can save lives and is the key to successful cancer treatment. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may be having and get regular cancer screenings. Catching any possible issues early can make a big difference in your treatment, quality of life, and longevity.
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Linda Guerrera has been the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You since 2022. A recipient of the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Work in Radio, she spent over ...
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