As with any disease or illness, the earlier treatment begins, the better the chance of full recovery. In many ways, this is no truer than when speaking of cancer.
Some examples of early-stage cancer symptoms can include fever, abnormal lung sounds, or rapid breathing. Symptoms of this nature can be felt by the person experiencing them while being noticeable to health care professionals and loved ones. Other symptoms, such as aching, weakness, or excessive fatigue, can be felt by the person experiencing them while not visually recognizable.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, visit your healthcare professional for an examination. Only an experienced doctor can accurately diagnose cancer-related illness through the use of blood tests, biopsies, X-rays, and other medical tests.
Warning Signs of Cancer
Early warning signs of cancer are often similar to other common illnesses, making them easy to overlook. No symptom should be ignored, especially if it has persisted or gotten worse over time. Some common cancer symptoms include extreme fatigue, fever, and unexplained weight loss.
The disease attacks the immune system and changes how the body uses energy from food. Some cancers release harmful substances into the bloodstream that can cause blood clots or raise blood calcium levels — leaving you feeling dizzy and weak.
The size and location of cancer will largely determine the signs and symptoms experienced. You have a better chance of treating cancer if it’s discovered and diagnosed in the early stages. Your doctor can perform early detection tests to diagnose cancer before you start having symptoms. If you have a family history of cancer, you should make appointments for check-ups and specific tests.
Below are some 7 warning signs of cancer. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, or they have gotten worse, contact your physician immediately.
1. Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss is characterized by a dramatic amount of weight loss without the person changing their lifestyle. Typically, losing 10 pounds or more with no change in lifestyle is a sign of extreme weight loss and should spur a talk with your physician. Unexplained weight loss is associated with cancers of the esophagus, stomach, lung, or pancreas.
A fever is a common symptom of many illnesses. However, fevers associated with cancer often occur after it has spread to other parts of the body. Some other common signs that a fever may be associated with cancer are if the onset of a fever happens mostly at night, you experience night sweats, and you don’t have any other signs of infection. Generally, all cancer patients will have a fever at some point as the tumor affects the immune system.
Fatigue is the feeling of extreme tiredness no matter how much you rest. Fatigue associated with cancer differs from the tiredness you feel after a long day at work. Cancer uses your body’s nutrients to grow and advance in your body. When these nutrients aren’t replenishing your body anymore, you can experience extreme fatigue. It’s a significant cancer symptom common in the early stages of leukemia and some stomach or colon cancers.
Particular pains are usually signs of cancer, such as testicular or bone cancer. A migraine or a headache that won’t go away even with treatment could be a symptom of a brain tumor. Persistent back pain could signify rectum, ovarian, or colon cancer. Pain associated with cancer often means it has metastasized to other places.
5. Skin Changes
The cancer warning signs associated with skin cancer include:
- Excessive hair growth
- Reddened skin
It’s vital to perform self-examinations and be vigilant about your skin even if you practice sun safety. If you notice any suspicious moles or lesions, have them checked immediately. Sores that bleed, itch, change, or don’t heal are all causes for a doctor’s visit. The odds of eliminating various types of skin cancer are incredibly high when detected early.
6. Change In Bowel Habits or Bladder Function
Long-term constipation, diarrhea, or a change in stool size may be a sign of colon cancer. Pain when passing urine, blood in the urine, or a change in bladder function could be related to bladder or prostate cancer. This includes needing to pass urine more or less often than usual. Report any changes in bladder or bowel function to a doctor.
7. Unusual Bleeding or Discharge
A common symptom in early or advanced cancer is unusual bleeding. Coughing up blood could be a sign of lung cancer. Dark, black, or blood in the stool could be a symptom of rectal or colon cancer. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is usually a cancer warning sign in the endometrium or cervix. Bloody discharge from the nipples is a common symptom of breast cancer, and blood in the urine could be kidney or bladder cancer.
Practicing Caution for Cancer by Addressing Symptoms
This list is meant to be informational and serves as a jumping-off point. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list of symptoms and warning signs. However, if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms over a prolonged period, it’s wise to consult your doctor. Always remember to talk with your physician during your yearly check-up if you have a family history of cancer.
Horizon Oncology & Research Center is a proven leader in oncology and hematology services. We deliver top-notch diagnostic and therapeutic options to our patients and offer advanced cutting-edge treatments. Our expert providers deliver cancer care in a delicate and trusting atmosphere, so every patient feels cared for and respected.