Cancer is a mysterious killer we still know so little about. Despite successful treatments and declining death rates in the United States, the American Cancer Society estimates that 1,735,350 people will be diagnosed with cancer by the end of 2018. That’s approximately 4,700 cancer diagnoses every single day.
Over the last two decades, a combination of steady reductions in smoking and early detection and advanced treatments has resulted in cancer taking less lives. However, the average person’s lifetime chances of getting some kind of cancer is just over 1 in 3 (or 37.6% for women and 39.7% for men). (1)
Among them, the most common cancers that women will be diagnosed with are breast, lung, and colorectal. For men, those cancers are prostate, lung, and colorectal. Combined, these four types of cancer are also responsible for 45% of all cancer deaths.
Unfortunately, cancer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So, it is important that you know the early warning signs of this terrible disease that can be growing inside of your body. More often than not, we can ignore small, seemingly insignificant changes to our body. It’s times like that where we have to be most conscious and aware of our health.
Early Signs of Cancer That Should Not Be Ignored
We will get into specific signs of cancer for both men and women below, but there are some general cancer symptoms that everyone should be aware of. : (3)
- Unexplained weight loss (of 10 pounds of more)
- Fever (one of the most common signs of cancer)
- Fatigue (or extreme tiredness that does not get better with rest)
- Pain (especially one that has become chronic or localized)
- Skin changes (e.g., darkening, yellowing, reddening, itching, excessive hair growth)
Women: 15 Signs of Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore
Although men tend to be diagnosed with cancer more often than women, women are still at risk. Because women’s bodies are constantly changing, it can be easy to ignore or overlook some signs of cancer. (4,6)
- Breast lumps, redness of scaly breast skin, nipples that turn inward, nipple discharge
- Bloating that lasts more than two weeks or happens with weight loss or bleeding
- Bleeding that is not part of your monthly menstrual cycle (e.g., endometrial cancer)
- Changes in skin (e.g., spots) or the size, shape, or color of a mole
- Blood in your urine or stool
- Tender or swollen lymph nodes
- Frequent trouble swallowing (especially with vomiting or weight loss)
- Unexpected weight loss (i.e., 10 pounds or more) with no dietary or exercise changes
- Heartburn that doesn’t go away (even after appropriate dietary changes)
- Canker sores or yellow, gray, white or bright-red patches inside your mouth
- Unexplained fever and high temperatures that won’t go down
- Chronic fatigue that never gets better
- Shortness of breath or a cough that last more than 4 weeks
- Pain that has spread and caused unexplained aches for more than a month
- Combination of belly pain and depression
You will notice that many of these signs of cancer can easily be found in other symptom lists of less serious health conditions. So, don’t assume the worst. But if you want to be sure, visit your doctor for a cancer checkup or other blood tests to make sure you have a clean bill of health.
Men: 10 Signs of Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore