The human body is made so that it sends us signals as symptoms to let us know something's wrong. Sadly, many of us overlook such signs, thinking it'll be all right anyway. We have gathered several symptoms that may signal cancer, and we recommend taking them seriously.
If you see any of these in yourself or one of your close ones, don't jump to conclusions - many of them may speak to very different diseases. However, it's still best to consult a doctor.
1. Abnormal periods or pelvic pain
Most women have the occasional irregular period or cramps. But persistent pain or changes in your cycle can be a sign of cervical, uterine, or ovarian cancer.
2. Changes in bathroom habits
Significant changes in bodily functions can indicate colon, prostate, or bladder cancer, among other cancers. Warning signs include persistent constipation or diarrhea; black or red blood in your stool; black, tarry stools; more frequent urination; and blood in your urine.
We all feel bloated now and then. But bloating for more than two weeks can be a sign of ovarian cancer, as well as various gastrointestinal cancers.
4. Breast changes
These include a new lump, dimpling, discoloring, changes around the nipple, or unusual discharge that you didn't have before. Although most breast cancer occurs in women, men can develop it too.
5. Chronic coughing
A cough that persists for more than two weeks, especially a dry cough, can be a sign of lung cancer.
6. Chronic headache
A headache that lasts more than two weeks and doesn't respond to the usual medications can be caused by a brain tumor.
7. Difficulty swallowing
If you feel as though food is getting stuck in your throat or you have trouble swallowing for more than two weeks, this can be a sign of throat, lung, or stomach cancer.
8. Excessive bruising
A bruise on the shin from bumping into the coffee table is normal. But suddenly getting a lot of bruises in unusual places that haven't been bumped can indicate various blood cancers.
9. Frequent fevers or infections
Spiking a fever over and over, or going from one infection to the next can indicate an immune system that's been rendered more susceptible by lymphoma or leukemia.
10. Oral changes
Persistent sores lesions or painful areas in the mouth, especially in people who smoke or drink heavily, can indicate various oral cancers.
11. Skin changes
A shift in the appearance of a mole or birthmark should be assessed by a health care provider, either in person or through a video visit. To remember which changes are cause for concern, use this easy mnemonic, ABCDE.
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole or mark doesn't look like the other.
- Border: The edges are irregular or blurred.
- Color: It’s varied or inconsistent, both black and brown.
- Diameter: It's larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
- Evolving: This refers to any mole that grows, bleeds, or otherwise changes over time.
12. Pain that lasts
Persistent pain anywhere in your body that has no clear cause and doesn't respond to standard treatments should be evaluated.
13. Persistent fatigue
A sudden, lasting change in your energy level, no matter how much sleep you've been getting, can be a sign of leukemia or lymphoma.
These observations can't and shouldn't be used to diagnose yourself because they may be associated with other diseases. However, if you've noticed any of the above, don't ignore them. Consult your doctor, and have yourself examined.