Many health conditions tend to share symptoms and signs, which makes it easy to pass them off as merely part of another condition. However, persistent symptoms and unexplained changes could signal more severe health issues. Cancer symptoms may present as easy to ignore signs that deserve more attention than they get.
Cancer is a group of diseases that cause a range of signs and symptoms and can grow anywhere within the body. Depending on where cancer is growing within the body determines where signs and symptoms will occur. Cancer can occur in organs where symptoms may not occur until it has reached advanced stages, such as the pancreas.
Others may cause changes in skin color such as jaundice, lumps in the skin, bruising, bleeding, or any of the other following symptoms. Keeping an eye out for early cancer warning signs helps you start prompt treatment and stop it before it spreads.
Again, early cancer signs are easily dismissed because most people don’t recognize them and they can be confused as a part of another condition. Short-term illnesses may be to blame for certain signs, such as a cough. However, if a cough becomes persistent and doesn’t go away, it could signal lung cancer. While most cases will turn out to be a cause other than cancer, it’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health.
While none of the following signs should be considered as a definite sign of cancer, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss what is going on.
10 Early Warning Signs of Cancer that are Easy to Miss
Losing your appetite could be a sign of several illnesses, but it could also signal throat or stomach cancer.
If this occurs with difficulty swallowing, don’t ignore your missed meals and see your doctor as this could signal that something more is going on.
2. Unexplained Weight Loss
If you’re not eating you may also be losing weight. However, if pounds seem to be falling off for no reason, don’t dismiss it as a blessing in disguise. Unexplained weight loss is never good.
Cancers of the liver or digestive organs can be causing problems with loss of appetite or interfering with the body’s ability to rid itself of waste leading to lost weight.
3. Fatigue and Weakness
Fatigue and weakness are common with cancer, especially in the later stages, yet it can sometimes occur early. Tiredness that doesn’t seem to get better even after rest can signal that your body is trying to fight an illness that it can’t beat on its own.
Some cancers, such as colon or stomach cancers, can even cause internal bleeding which can be the cause of feeling weak without respite.
4. Shortness of Breath
Those who are familiar with asthma and breathing issues may dismiss wheezing and shortness of breath as just another part of their condition. However it can also be an early sign of lung cancer.
Any trouble you have breathing should not be put out of mind. If you find yourself short of breath more often or wheezing, make an appointment with your doctor ASAP. It may not be cancer, but why keep putting it off if you can’t breathe?
5. Persistent Cough
If you’ve been sick with a cough it might linger for a bit afterwards. But if that cough is overstaying its welcome it, might mean that it’s unrelated to your previous illness.
A nagging cough may signal lung cancer, especially if it becomes productive or bloody. If you experience hoarseness or chest pain as well, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Pain can signal many ailments, and as such tends to be ignored. Persistent headaches may be passed off as everyday stressors but can also signal brain tumors. Back pains may be signs of ovary, colon or rectal cancer, while chest pain may be a sign of lung cancer.
When it comes to determining if pain is a sign of cancer or not, your doctor will be able to distinguish between cancer and other causes.
7. Slow to Heal Wounds
Sores that bleed or do not seem to heal could be signs of skin cancers. However, wounds that don’t seem to get better or that take longer to heal could be a signal that the immune system is working harder than normal.
If your body is fighting cancer while trying to heal a wound, it gives cancer the priority, meaning, it takes longer to heal cuts and wounds.
8. Skin Changes
Your skin may warn you of underlying conditions long before you being to experience other symptoms. Changes in the way your nails look could be signs of cancer, as well as changes in the color and tone of your skin.
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) could signal liver cancer, while redness of the breast may indicate breast cancer. Any skin changes should be taken seriously.
9. Bruising or Bleeding
Leukemia impairs the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, which can lead to blood clots and bruises. If you seem to have abnormal bruises or experience bleeding that doesn’t stop, is unexplained, or occurs with other bodily fluids, you should check with your physician to see what’s going on.
Some cancers can also cause internal bleeding, leading to bloody urine and stool. Any bleeding without a clear source should not be ignored.
10. Bowel Changes
Changes in bowel movements that last more than two days shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Bloody stool could be a sign of colon cancer, while other cancers can cause changes in usual bowel movements.
Long-lasting constipation, diarrhea, or changes in stool size could signal colon cancer. Any changes in your bowel habits that concern you should be reported to your doctor who can determine whether or not cancer is to blame.