Cancer-related symptoms can come cloaked as ordinary health problems. They may not be easy to notice, especially during the early stage. However, according to doctors, several deaths can be avoided by diagnosing cancer early on. In certain types of cancer, the chances of survival can increase as much as 70 percent.
Here are 13 key cancer signs to increase awareness and aid in increasing the survival rate by allowing early diagnosis.
Weakening Immunity and Frequent Infections
Bone marrow makes white blood cells (WBC) that are responsible for fighting infections. Cancers like leukemia or lymphoma can spread into bone marrow and cause it to produce abnormal WBC. This makes the body vulnerable and susceptible to infections. Therefore, if a person has suddenly become too prone to getting infected frequently, it can be a sign of cancer. Although any body part can get infected, mouth, lungs, or skin will often show infection first.
Cancer patients often bleed easily and heavily. They can experience excessive or/and frequent nosebleeds or gum bleeds. Blood can appear in urine, stool, and vomit as well. Anyone with these complications maybe dealing with symptoms of leukemia cancer.
Bleeding as a cancer symptom in women can also include heavy blood discharge between periods or after menopause. The periods can also become quite painful. This abnormal vaginal bleeding can indicate endometrial or cervical cancer.
A bruise is normal if a person falls down or hits something. But among leukemia patients, these bruises can be larger and more severe than normal. Leukemia patients also have a tendency to develop hematomas, a type of bruise with a lump grown under the skin. Another symptom that the patient might experience is petechiae. In this condition a cluster of tiny red spots that looks like a rash.
Unexplained Weight Loss
When the cancer cells begin to attack healthy cells, they also begin relying on the body’s main energy supply to survive and grow. To replicate that energy at a faster pace, cancer cells can even change the way of creating energy or protein by releasing abnormal substances. This can cause a sudden drop in weight. This unexplained weight loss can be a sign of cancer in the liver, pancreas, stomach, lungs, or esophagus.
Unexplained Weight Gain
As opposed to the cancers mentioned above, certain types of cancers can cause weight gain and bloating. These symptoms are prominent among patients inflicted with ovarian cancer. There are other types of cancer that can cause fluid retention in the legs or abdomen. This condition is called ascites and is a common symptom of cancer in breasts, ovarian, colon, stomach and pancreatic.
Changes in Nails and Skin
Skin cancer called melanoma can surface on the body as a brown stripe underneath the nail. Pale or white nails may be a sign of liver cancer. If the patient is noticing enlargement of fingers causing the nails to curve down over the tips, it may be a lung cancer symptom.
Similarly, variations in skin pigmentations can also indicate cancer. For example, pancreatic and liver cancers can manifest as jaundice, a condition in which skin begins yellowing.
Neck and Face Swelling
Lung cancer can cause face, arms, neck, and upper chest to swell. This often happens because a tumor is pressing up against the vein that connects head to heart. This condition is called superior vena cava obstruction. It is one of the severe cancer symptoms that can go unnoticed. Lymphedema is another condition that can cause swelling due to abnormal fluid build-up in soft tissues. This condition can be a sign of bladder, breast, penile, prostate, melanoma, and prostate cancer.
Unexplained and constant fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of cancer that can easily go unobserved. Johns Hopkins Medicine tells cancer-related exhaustion is different than normal tiredness. It is not a result of strenuous physical activity and cannot be fixed by rest or sleep. This tiredness is more severe and can be related to blood or energy loss. According to the American Cancer Society, fatigue as a cancer-related symptom is prevalent in leukemia patients.
It can be difficult to separate the usual headache from the one that shows up as one of the brain cancer symptoms. If the headache feels too persistent and does not get better even with treatment, but causes clumsiness and muscle weakness, it indicates just that. An abnormal growth of cells inside the brain can be causing these symptoms.
If the pain is accompanied by pain in the neck or/and the back, it can be a sign of lymphoma.
Persistent Chronic Cough
Having a cough does not always indicate lung cancer. However, a persistent cough does. Sometimes there can be other symptoms alongside cough that can mean lung cancer. Anyone experiencing short breath, chest pain, or frequent infections like pneumonia should see a doctor immediately. These complications can also be accompanied by spitting up blood, rust-colored mucus, or phlegm. Some patients can also experience wheezing while breathing or voice hoarseness.
Cancers that spread to the bone marrow, such as leukemia and lymphoma, can interfere in the body’s ability to make red blood cells. This causes a loss of blood. The condition is called anemia and it can make the patient feel weak and tired. Other cancers that can result in blood loss are cancers in gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, cervical, and vagina. They cause heavy bleeding and lead to anemia.
Breast lumps are cancer symptoms in women and lumps in testicles are cancer symptoms in men. While these lumps are usually painless, they can be painful for some patients. These lumps may seem to appear just overnight. Some women can only feel these lumps when standing up while others can only feel them when they are lying down. Among men, these lumps can also make testicles look unusually enlarged or swollen.
Indigestion or Difficulty Swallowing
Difficulty swallowing or dysphagia is a common sign of cancer in esophageal (food pipe). According to the American Cancer Society, people are likely to ignore this early sign of throat cancer and can adapt to the discomfort it causes. They can unknowingly change food habits and diet to make swallowing easier. It lets the cancer grow resulting in worsening of the problem.
The best way to reduce the risk of cancer is to take a full-body exam regularly. Get consistent cancer screenings and also learn about the family history to ensure good health.