Given that cancer is the second most common cause of death in the world, it’s shocking how many of those people went untreated until the final stages of the diseases when little can be done to help them. And this is out of no fault of theirs, because cancer is notorious in showing itself in seemingly harmless symptoms that we would dismiss as day to day problems. Detecting the disease in its early stages is vital in effectively treating and “curing” it. That’s why we need to be vigilant about all the ways it may present itself through our bodies.
Here are some symptoms of cancer that you might ignore or consider to be harmless:
SUDDEN AND UNEXPLAINED WEIGHT LOSS
Weight loss, unless you were actively trying to make it happen through diet and exercise, is one of the most common symptoms of cancers in the stomach, lung, or pancreas. So, be cautious before you start celebrating that sudden shedding of pounds.
Blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma show themselves in the beginning stages through high fevers. Fever could also be a sign of early-stage kidney or colon cancer.
FATIGUE & TIREDNESS
It’s natural to feel tired from time to time, say after a particularly busy week at work or a long trip. In these cases, you should recover with some much deserved rest. But, if the fatigue doesn’t go away even with rest, it could point to cancers like stomach, colon, or blood (leukemia).
ACHES & PAIN
Pain is one of the most common signs of cancer, and also one the most commonly ignored signs of cancer. Bone and testicular cancer can cause aching, frequent and severe headaches may be an indication of brain tumor, and back pain could be a symptom of ovarian or colon cancer.
SUDDEN SKIN CHANGES
You might consider a sudden change in skin to be related to the weather or diet. And while that may be the case, if it’s never happened before, you may be in for quite a shock. Freckles, moles, or warts that change in shape, colour or size need to be examined for cancer. The disease has also been known to cause darker-looking, reddened skin, or yellowish skin and eyes.
CHANGES IN BOWEL MOVEMENTS
Diarrhea or constipation that doesn’t get better with medication or a sudden change in the size of the stool can be pointing to rectal or colon cancer. And if you experience blood when passing urine, you should get checked for bladder or prostate cancer.
SHORTNESS OF BREATH
Breathlessness as a sign of cancer may be caused due to a blockage of air tubes if there is a cancer in or near the lungs. It can also be due to other cancers like breast, ovarian, or liver.
Bleeding unusually is always a cause for concern and one more thing to add to your list of worries is cancer. Coughing blood could indicate lung cancer, while blood in the urine or stool could mean a colon, kidney, or bladder cancer. Breast cancer patients have also reported bloody discharge from the nipple.
If you find a lump anywhere in your body, you should immediately get it check out by a doctor. But, the way to identify a cancerous lump is if it’s is hard, but not painful, irregularly shaped or firmly affixed deep in the soft tissue or underneath your skin.
If you’re having difficulty swallowing, it could be an indication of mouth or throat cancers. Other cancers in the head and neck such as esophageal, oropharyngeal, thyroid and laryngeal cancers may also show themselves in this way.
Here’s a shocking statistic: more than 50% of people who have nagging coughs that won’t get better with medication are diagnosed with lung cancer! A severe cough is also associated with laryngeal and thyroid cancer.
WHITE PATCHES INSIDE THE MOUTH
If you see white patches in your mouth, you should get them treated immediately! These can be pre-cancerous leukoplakia, which means they can become cancerous if not treated early.
Heartburn could be caused by any number of reasons, including but not limited to, excessive food, alcohol or stress. But, if it persists or worsens even with medication, it could be a sign of cancer in the ovaries, stomach, or throat.
BELLY PAIN AND DEPRESSION
Although this is one of the rare symptoms of cancer, a combination of belly pain and depression has been often been found in patients with pancreatic cancer. But, this is often a hereditary disease, and is unlikely to be the case unless there is family history of it.