A diagnosis of cancer could be devastating, but cancer doesn’t happen or occur accidentally. Your body usually gives warning signs long before you realize something is wrong.
A new spot on your skin or one that changes size, shape, or colour could all be a sign of skin cancer. If you have any unusual marks, swelling or bleeding, or any of the signs below, see your doctor for an exam.
Nagging Cough: If you don’t smoke, a nagging cough is unlikely to be a sign of cancer. But if it doesn’t go away or you cough up blood, go for a chest X-ray to check for lung cancer.
Breast Changes: Most breast changes are not cancer. It’s still important, though, to have them checked out. Any lumps, nipple changes or discharge, redness or thickening, or pain in your breasts should be investigated. You may need to do a mammogram, MRI, or a biopsy.
Bloating: You may have a full, bloated feeling because of your diet or even stress. But if it doesn’t get better or you also have fatigue, weight loss, or back pain, have it checked out. Constant bloating in women may be a sign of ovarian cancer. A pelvic exam can help check for the cause.
Problems With Urination: Many men have urinary issues as they get older. Things like the need to go more often, leaks, or a weak stream, usually, are signs of an enlarged prostate, but they could also mean prostate cancer. An exam and maybe a special blood test called a PSA test are ideal here.
Swollen Lymph Nodes: If you have swellings from the small, bean-shaped glands in your neck, armpits, and other places in your body, it often means you’re fighting an infection, but some cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can also cause this kind of swelling.
Blood In Stools: If you see blood after using the toilet, it’s not a good sign. Bloody stool is likely to come from swollen, inflamed veins called hemorrhoids, but there’s a chance it could be colon cancer.
Blood in your urine could be a urinary tract infection, but it may be kidney or bladder cancer.
Testicle Changes: A lump or swelling in the testicles is abnormal. A painless lump is the most common sign of testicular cancer. A physical exam of the area and use an ultrasound scan can detect if it’s a tumour or another problem.
Trouble Swallowing: The common cold, acid reflux, or even some medicine can make it hard to swallow once in a while. If it doesn’t get better with time, see your doctor. It can also be a sign of cancer of the throat or gullet (esophagus). An exam and some tests like a barium X-ray, may be necessary.
Unusual Vaginal Bleeding: Bleeding that’s not part of your usual period can have many causes, like fibroids or even some types of birth control. See your doctor if you’re bleeding between periods, after sex, or have bloody discharge.
It could be cancer of the uterus, cervix, or vagina. Be sure to tell the doctor if you are bleeding after menopause. That’s not normal and should be checked out right away.
Mouth Issues: From bad breath to canker sores, most changes in your mouth aren’t serious. But if you have white or red patches or sores in your mouth that don’t heal after a couple of weeks—especially if you smoke—see your doctor.
It may be a sign of oral cancer. Other things to look for: a lump in your cheek, trouble moving your jaw, or mouth pain.
Unexplained Weight Loss: You can slim down when you change the way you eat or exercise or when you have stress or a thyroid problem. But it’s not normal to lose weight rapidly without trying.
There’s a chance it could be a first sign of cancer of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, lung, or other type of cancer.
Recurrent Fever: A fever isn’t usually a bad thing. Sometimes it’s just a sign that your body is fighting an infection or a side effect of some medicines. But one that won’t go away and doesn’t have an obvious cause could be a sign of a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma.
Heartburn Or Indigestion: Almost everyone has this burning feeling sometimes, often because of their diet or stress. If lifestyle changes don’t work and your indigestion doesn’t stop, your doctor may want to do some tests to look for a cause. It could be a sign of stomach cancer.
Fatigue: A lot of things can make you very tired, and most of them aren’t serious. But fatigue is one early sign of some cancers, like leukemia. Some colon and stomach cancers can cause invisible blood loss which can make you feel very tired. Go for a check-up.