Let’s be clear from the start – cancer is the most sneaky disease ever and can cause almost any sign or symptom. They can depend on the type of the cancer and where it is located, how big it is and how much of the body it has affected. The symptoms are most obvious if the cancer has grown or spread. However, it is possible to have an early stage of cancer with no signs or symptoms at all. This is especially the case with pancreatic cancers which don’t cause symptoms until they grow large enough to press on nearby nerves or organs.
With other types of cancer the first and most usual symptoms are fever, fatigue and loss of appetite which all happen due to the cancer using much of the body’s energy as well as the cancer affecting the immune system. The most important thing in successful cancer treatment is early diagnosis. This is why catching the very first symptoms is crucial. Unfortunately, most people ignore the first signs of cancer, sometimes because they don’t recognize them, sometimes because they are too afraid or even can’t afford to get medical care. Although many of these symptoms are usually not caused by cancer, they shouldn’t be overlooked. But please, do a check up. Also do not skip on the recommend cancer-related check-ups and certain tests for people even though they have no symptoms.
In any case, you should know the general symptoms of cancer and how to recognize them. If you have some of them and they last for a longer period of time, then you need to visit your doctor.
Here are the 10 early cancer symptoms and warning signs you shouldn’t ignore…
1. Unexplained Weight Loss and Loss of Appetite
Sudden weight loss that isn’t a result of a strict diet plan is definitely a warning that something is happening inside our digestive system. This can be connected to colon and other digestive cancers but can also be a sign that a cancer has spread to the liver which is unable to get rid of waste resulting in loss of appetite. Feeling full and unable to eat can be a symptom of ovarian cancer. It is a fact that half the people with cancer loose weight by the time they get diagnosed so take this early warning sign seriously and talk to your doctor.
2. Shortness of Breath, Wheezing or Constant Coughing
Shortness of breath can be a symptom of many conditions, most of them benign, but it is one of the first symptoms of lung cancer and many patients aren’t initially connecting it with this diseases which leads to a dilated diagnose. If you are experiencing shortness of breath that is accompanied with wheezing and constant coughing make sure you get checked as soon as possible.
3. Frequent Infections and Low-Grade Fevers
Cancer weakens your immune system which causes more frequent infections and unexplained (usually low-grade) fevers that just won’t go away. The fevers are usually present when the cancer has spread to a new area or that it is affecting the immune system. These symptoms usually appear with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. Check the other symptoms of these cancers and if you have some of them do visit your doctor.
4. Sore That Does Not Heal
What is great about our skin is that it has the power to repair itself very quickly so any damage usually heals within a week or so. However, if you notice that a sore, wart or spot just doesn’t heal even after several weeks it is definitely time for a check up. This goes even if the sore is painless!
5. Thickening or Lump Anywhere on The Body
Cancers of the soft tissues of the body can often be felt through the skin. This includes breast cancer, testicle cancer as well as cancer of the lymph nodes. Check yourself for any lumps or thickenings anywhere on your body and report them to your doctor, especially if you notice that their size has changed.
6. Change in Bowel or Bladder Habits
Any radical changes in bowel movements as well as bladder habits should be immediately reported to a doctor. We are talking about long-term constipation, diarrhea, or a change in the size of the stool which might be a symptom of color cancer or blood in the urine, pain while passing urine or any changes in the bladder which can be related to prostate or bladder cancer.
7. Unusual Bleeding or Discharge
Any unusual bleeding can be a sign of cancer, both in its early and more advanced stages. For instance, coughing up blood can be a sign of lung cancer while blood in the stool can be a result of colon cancer. Any unusual vaginal bleeding can be connected with cancer of the cervix. Blood in the urine can indicate that there is bladder or kidney cancer while bloody discharge from the nipples can be a sign of breast cancer.
8. Indigestion or Difficulty Swallowing
Indigestion and difficulty swallowing usually aren’t connected to cancer, but it is good to know that if these symptoms don’t go away they might be a sign of stomach, esophagus or pharynx (throat) cancer. Having difficulty swallowing can also be a sign of lung cancer. So if you are experiencing these symptoms for a longer period of time do have a check up.
9. Obvious Change of The Look of a Wart, Mole, or Mouth Sore
It is a rule that any change in size, look, color, shape, thickness of a wart, mole, freckle should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. This includes any skin change because it can be a sign of melanoma or skin cancer and for this type of cancer early diagnosis is crucial. If treated on time, it can be cured. If you are not sure what to look for, google some images of skin cancer and skin conditions.
10. Persistent Headache, Fatigue, Nausea, or Vomiting
Extreme tiredness, persistent headache, nausea or vomiting that just don’t go away can be a sign of a spreading cancer. Leukemia can cause fatigue, but this can also be a sign of colon or stomach cancer which causes blood loss that can also lead to fatigue. Persistent headache can be a result of a growing brain tumor. If you have any of these symptoms and if they last for a longer period of time it is time for a check up.