Overlooked Warning Signs of a Possible Cancer
Cancer isn't just one disease; it's a bunch of related diseases that can effect every system in your body. That means it can display itself in a number of different ways, depending on what type it is and where in the body it resides. There are some common signs of cancer, however; this list goes over 13 of the most common, and most alarming, potential warning signs that you should be aware of.
#1 - General Disclaimer
Remember--the internet is not your doctor! Just because you have these symptoms, that doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer. These are warning signs, but they should always be checked out by a trained medical professional before any sort of diagnosis can be made. If they linger, go to a doctor and get checked out.
#2 - Sudden Weight Loss
About 40% of recently diagnosed cancer patients have reported sudden and unexplained weight loss. Some types of cancer can alter or increase your metabolism; that will make you fatigued, anemic and insomniac, as well as rapidly causing you to lose weight.
#3 - Extreme Fatigue
Because cancer cells fight with your healthy cells for energy, cancer sufferers often report dealing with substantial fatigue. It can change how your body processes food, or even change the way your immune system works to crank up your exhaustion. This isn't something that can be cured by sleep--this is a chronic condition.
#4 - Chronic Headaches
Obviously, not all headaches are caused by cancer, but a tumor in your brain can cause steady, persistent pain. We're not talking about migraines; we're just talking about regular pain caused by the tumor pressing up against blood vessels. If your headaches don't get better with standard remedies, a tumor could be to blame.
#5 - Indigestion and Difficulty Eating
Cancer of the stomach or esophagus can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Heartburn, nausea and flatulence can be caused by a great many sources, but long-term and persistent digestive problems could be a sign of a more serious condition. If over-the-counter medication doesn't seem to help your digestive issues, it may be time to speak to a doctor.
#6 - Unexplained Lumps or Nodes
These are some of the most famous signs of cancer. Tumors are basically just cells in your body that have grown out of control, so unlike a virus or bacteria, they can sometimes be seen or felt through the skin. Lymph nodes, breasts and testicles are the most common places to find cancerous lumps, but remember that not every lump is automatically a tumor, and not every tumor is automatically malignant. It's a sign to speak to a doctor, not to panic.
#7 - Persistent Cough
If you have a cough that just never seems to go away, you probably have bronchitis or asthma. However, if you have a tumor in your lung or elsewhere in your respiratory system, you could be experiencing a persistent, repeating cough. If you're a smoker, this is definitely something you should be aware of.
#8 - Mysterious White Patches Inside Your Mouth
Smokers and tobacco users beware! A blister or other white patch in your mouth could be a prelude to mouth cancer. Leukoplakia is a pre-cancerous area; these white patches can be benign but, if left untreated, could develop into full-blown cancer. These are one of the few warning signs you can do something about before cancer even gets started, so it's something you should keep an eye on.
#9 - Unexplained Bleeding
If you're bleeding, and you don't know why, you should go to a doctor. That's not just a cancer tip; that's a useful tip for life in general. Blood is a sign that something, somewhere has gone wrong in your body. If you're coughing up blood, it could be a sign of lung cancer. Blood in your stool could indicate colon cancer. Blood in your urine could indicate bladder cancer. There are many other possible explanations as well, but none of them are particularly good--get unexplained bleeding checked out!
#10 - Bladder Issues
When something goes wrong in your bladder or prostate, it often reveals itself with a change in your normal bladder routine. You might find yourself needing urinate more or less frequently, or you might have a more serious sign--blood or pain while urinating. These can all be symptoms of prostate or bladder cancer, and should be checked out by a physician.
#11 - Changes in Bowel Function
Much like the aforementioned bladder issues, a change in your bowel function could also be a sign of cancer. Long-term constipation, diarrhea or blood in the stool can often be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. As always, if you see a sudden, unexplained change, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
#12 - Growing Moles on the Skin
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and one of the easiest to spot. If you have moles and warts, you should occasionally take note--if one is starting to grow or is getting excessively hairy, it could be a sign of melanoma. It's easy to treat in it's early stages, with dermatologists simply removing the mole in question, so it's very helpful if you keep an eye out for unusual skin changes and deal with them promptly.
#13 - Other Symptoms
Being such a wide and varied category of diseases, and affecting essentially every part of the body, cancer symptoms can run nearly the entire gamut. If you notice any major, unexplained changes in your body or mood, it's best to consult a doctor. Whether it's cancer or not, a physician is best positioned to help you understand what's going on and get you back on your feet again.