Cancer can creep in quite unnoticed- because the very initial cancer signs are often similar to regular body aches and pains or nagging health problems like coughing and urinary tract infections. In fact, this is also the reason that most people ignore the very first cancer symptoms and signs. They seem like ordinary health problems and cancer doesn’t leap to mind immediately. However, the truth is aches and pains or certain other such problems that seem otherwise ordinary but persist for a substantial length of time could signal cancer and should not therefore be ignored. Here are 12 cancer symptoms you need to be aware of.
12 Cancer symptoms you should not ignore
Unusual lumps or bumps
Pay attention to any unusual or strange lumps or bumps that develop in the body. Most people ignore them as something that’s not so serious. In fact, it could well be a benign cyst, but it could also be a signal of cancer developing in the subterranean tissue. A lump in the breast for instance is one of the very common breast cancer symptoms.
Cough or hoarseness
Cough or hoarseness is a very common occurrence especially during the flu season and also probably the reason why most people choose to overlook it as an indication of underlying cancer. But if your cough has persisted longer than usual- it could well be a thyroid, laryngeal or lung cancer symptom. So for a cough that refuses to go away, don’t hesitate to see the doctor.
A change in regular bowel habits
You may often experience a change in bowel habits due to certain medications or when you eat out. But if the change is noticeable in terms of timing, amount or size and it continues over a long period of time, it could indicate a mass obstructing the transit of stool from the bowel. This is one of the cancer symptoms of colon, so schedule a colonoscopy to check if there is indeed a mass.
A change in regular bladder activity
A change in bladder activity is a common sign of urinary tract infections. Because UTIs are so common with females, most tend to ignore this as a sign of cancer. But irrespective of whether you’re male or female, instances of blood in urine, or sudden urgency or pain while passing urine should immediately be checked to rule out bladder, kidney or prostate cancer.
We generally tend to ignore body pains and aches but any persistent pain could be an indication of cancer that has spread more than you imagined. It may be nothing at all or something too bad. Get yourself checked.
Unexplained weight loss
This is one of the very common cancer symptoms for pancreatic, stomach, lung or esophageal cancers. Any unexplained weight loss of ten pounds or more could be an underlying sign of cancer.
Sore throat that doesn’t heal
A persistent sore throat could be a sign of laryngeal or throat cancer.
Any sore that hangs around substantially long
A sore that doesn’t heal in three weeks time is a cause of concern. See your doctor to check if it might be a sign of carcinoma.
Persistent difficulty in swallowing
If you experience difficulty swallowing your food persistently, it’s time to go to the doctor. The most common response to throat constriction or difficulty swallowing is to change your diet and probably start adopting softer foods to ease the pain- but if this problem persists, it could signal neck or esophageal cancer.
Any kind of bleeding that looks suspicious should be taken seriously. Coughing up blood or blood in urine or stool, bloody discharge from the vagina or nipples could signal lung, kidney, and bladder, colorectal, vaginal or breast cancers.
Changes in skin moles
Skin moles, freckles, warts can be more than just annoying. In fact if you spot a change in these or see new ones developing, you should contact your doctor. Not all such cases signal melanoma, but it certainly warrants a screening for skin cancer.
Constant fatigue is a condition where you feel extremely tired no matter how much rest you take. It is easy to ignore this as a symptom of cancer, but if you experience this quite frequently, do not brush it off. Your doctor might first conduct a test to rule out thyroid and then check for leukemia, colon or stomach cancer- all of which can lead to fatigue from blood loss.