An early diagnosis of cancer can prevent thousands of deaths each year. Moreover, detecting various types of cancer at an early stage can boost survival rates by more than 70%. It is important to look out for symptoms and warning signs that indicate the growth of cancerous tumors within your body.
In this article, we will walk you through some common warning signs that will help you detect cancer at an early stage. It is important to consult a doctor as soon as you spot any of these early symptoms.
Here, take a look at 15 early warning signs that shows cancer is growing inside your body.
1. Chronic cough
Possible cancer: lung, neck, or leukemia
If you experience severe bouts of cough that tend to much worse than bronchitis, it could be an indication of a more sinister affliction. Chronic cough is one of the early warning signs of leukemia, neck or lung cancers.
Typically, chest aches and chronic cough are caused by common infections, such as sinusitis or bronchitis. If your symptoms remain consistent even after a month, it is likely to be caused by a more severe ailment. Lung tumors and leukemia typically induce a chronic cough. If you start coughing blood or mucus, it is important to consult a doctor right away and get yourself tested for lung or neck cancer.
2. You start losing your Appetite
Possible cancer: ovarian, stomach, pancreatic, or colon
Do you find yourself no longer tempted by your favorite dishes and cheesy casseroles? Loss of appetite is one of the earliest symptoms of colon, ovarian, pancreatic and stomach cancers. Feeling satiated without having any food and a general lack of appetite are common signs of ovarian cancer.
Colon, pancreatic and stomach cancers can also impact the stomach and create pressure that makes you feel satiated and too full to stomach a bite. If you notice any kind of changes in your eating patterns, which last for over two weeks or more, be sure to consult your doctor immediately.
3. Nail changes
Possible cancer: melanoma, liver, or lung
The changing appearances of your nails indicate a great deal about your health, and can also indicate the early stages of lung, liver or melanoma amongst other cancers. It is important to be vigilant about any unusual changes in your nail health.
Research reveals that melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancers, tends to manifest itself as a brown stripe beneath the nails amongst 20% African-American and 1% Caucasian patients.
Excessively white or pale nails tend to be indicate liver cancer. Enlarged fingers and nails that start curving from the tips, also known as clubbing, is an indication of lung cancer.
4. Excessive weight gain or loss that cannot be explained
Possible cancer: liver, esophagus, lungs, pancreas, stomach, or ovarian
Are you utterly confused by your sudden weight gain or excessive weight loss without even going on a diet? It is important to eat that our eating patterns and appetite reflect a great deal about our overall health. Sudden weight gain or loss is often associated with ovarian, liver, pancreatic, stomach and esophagus cancers.
Experts believe that many patients that go undiagnosed end up experiencing sudden weight gain or loss, typically 10 pounds or more, during the very first stage. You see, as the cancerous cells start attacking their healthy counterparts, the body begins to rapidly lose weight.
Sudden loss of weight is one of the common early signs of liver, pancreatic, stomach, lungs and esophagus cancers. Ovarian cancer, on the other hand, is largely associated with excessive bloating or unexplained weight gain around the stomach.
5. Stomach Aches & Swallowing Disturbances
Possible cancer: esophagus, stomach, or throat
Indigestion, throat aches and swallowing difficulties are common signs of throat, stomach or esophagus cancers. Swallowing disturbances, typically known as dysphagia, is one of the major symptoms of esophageal cancer. Experts have noticed that many patients find themselves adapting to these swallowing difficulties and end up neglecting one of the earliest symptoms of throat cancer.
Most patients respond to dysphagia by altering their eating patterns and diet, without realizing that they are ignoring the growth of cancer within their body.
6. Bruises start appearing everywhere
Possible cancer: leukemia
Dark marks and bruises are another major sign for concern that should compel you to visit your physician. Excessive bruising is largely associated with leukemia, and the pattern is quite consistent. It’s alright to spot a few bruises after falling down or tripping down the stairs.
However, the bruises associated with cancer tend to appear on weird places, such as toes, hands and fingers. If you notice these strange bruises, be sure to consult your doctor. Basically, leukemia cells undermine the red blood cells across the body, which impairs their ability to transport oxygen. This causes blood clotting and it can manifest itself anywhere across your body.
7. Persistent Infections
Possible cancer: leukemia or lymphoma
In the case of leukemia or lymphoma, the immune system is weakened, which causes the patient to suffer frequent infections. These are the types of cancers that impact the bone marrow and manifest themselves with infections.
Basically, the bone marrow starts generating abnormal white blood cells, which render your immune system unable to fight off infections. These infections can show up anywhere across your body, but the major targets tend to be the lungs, skin, or even the mouth.
8. Unusual Changes in your Skin
Possible cancer: skin, adrenal, liver, or pancreatic
It is important to closely examine all sudden changes in your skin and the appearance of moles as they could be a possible indication of pancreatic, liver, skin or adrenal cancer. Skin cancer is widely associated with variations in skin pigmentation or unusual moles.
It is important to note that different skin changes are associated with various types of cancers. For instance, adrenal cancer typically accompanies increased growth in hair. Jaundice is a common symptom of pancreatic cancer, and it causes the skin and whites of the eyes to become excessively yellow. Jaundice is also a sign of liver cancer.
9. The Emergence of Lumps
Possible cancer: breast, testicular, or lymph node
If you start noticing any unusual lumps across your body, be sure to consult a doctor as they are widely associated with lymph node, testicular and breast cancers. Lumps can be an indication of cancer or a swollen gland associated with cancer.
Many lumps, such as benign cysts, tend to harmless, however, lumps or glands that continue to remain swollen for a long period of time must be examined. Experts advise that lumps that do not cause pain and remain fixed in place tend to be a likely sign of cancer, while movable lumps tend to indicate the presence of an infection. Either way, it is important to get them examined by a doctor.
10. Exhaustion & Fatigue
Possible cancer: leukemia or lymphoma
Excessive bouts of fatigue are one of the most common early warning signs of cancer, and patients typically tend to adapt to this symptom, considering it a normal consequence of their daily routines. Constant bouts of exhaustion warrant a serious response as they indicate that something is wrong with your body. They are typically associated with lymphoma and leukemia.
Unexplainable fatigue is a major warning sign of cancer, and it tends to be quite different from usual exhaustion that we all experience. This is primarily because it does not occur after physical or mental exertion and you cannot get rid of it even after sleeping or resting.
This kind of fatigue is typically associated from the excessive loss of blood caused by several cancers, mainly lymphoma and leukemia. Leukemia patients are most likely to experience excessive exhaustion and fatigue.
11. Back Aches
Possible cancer: pancreatic, kidney, prostate, or ovarian
Your body posture and alignment are two very significant signs of health, and if you’re experiencing persistent back aches, you need to investigate the cause of the ailment. Many people experience lower back aches after excessive physical exertion or sitting in one position for too long. However, persistent back aches is one of the broad signs of ovarian, prostate, kidney and pancreatic cancers.
Research reveals that tumors tend to grow within the spinal column, which causes the bones to either weaken or expand abnormally. In most cases, back aches caused by cancers tend to occur in the lower abdominal region, typically near the reproductive organs, pancreas or kidneys.
12. Stomach Cramps & Sickness
Possible cancer: colon, ovarian, or leukemia
If you experience regular cramps or pain in your stomach, it could be an indication or leukemia, colon or ovarian cancer. Sick stomach and cramps can also be one of the early symptoms of colorectal cancer. If stomach cramps or nausea continues to persist longer than a week, it is important to consult your doctor.
Ovarian cancer typically tends to manifest itself through unexplained indigestion, excessive stomach pressure and cramps. Cramps and pelvis aches are also associated with leukemia, which causes the spleen to expand abnormally.
13. Mysterious onset of Anemia
Possible cancer: gastrointestinal, urinary tract, vaginal, leukemia, or lymphoma
It is important to pay close attention to your body’s energy levels and undergo regular blood tests and checkups to spot cancers at an early stage. The unexplainable onset of anemia is largely associated with leukemia, urinary tract, vaginal, lymphoma or gastrointestinal cancers.
Leukemia, lymphoma and other bone marrow cancers tend to impair the body’s ability to generate red blood cells and utilized the iron stored across the body. This leads to feelings of extreme exhaustion and weakness, and the onset of anemia.
Many cancers, including urinary tract, vaginal, gastrointestinal and cervical, tend to cause excessive blood loss, bleeding and iron deficiency, which leads to anemia.
14. Recurring Headaches
Possible cancer: brain
Are you struggling to get rid of the persistent bouts of headaches? It could be caused by a more serious culprit than work exhaustion or a family spat. Headaches are largely associated with brain cancer, which tends to go on undetected much longer than other cancers.
If you’re experiencing frequent bouts of headache that continues to persist despite medications, accompanied by excessive muscle weakness and awkwardness, be sure to consult a doctor. Brain cancer typically causes an abnormal growth of cells within the brain, and requires treatment by oncologists, neurologists and neurosurgeons.
15. Common Aches
Possible cancer: bone, liver, testicular, uterine, or breast
We all experience common pains and tend to shrug them off as signs of exhaustion or fatigue. But these common aches could be much more sinister, as they are also associated with testicular, liver, bone, uterine and breast cancers.
Experts believe that pain is one of the earliest warning signs of testicular or bone cancers.
In most cases, pain caused by cancer reflects that the cancer has already spread from the area where it started. Experiencing unusually painful or heavy menstruation is a major indication of uterine cancer, while back aches are an early symptom of liver cancer.
Breast cancer can also manifested itself through back aches as the tumor tends to spread to the spine or ribs, causing backward pressure.
Cancers that manifest no warning signs
There are many types of cancers that do not exhibit any warning signs, and only regular blood tests and checkups can help you diagnose your symptoms. Pancreatic cancer is one of the types that might not manifest any signs until it has spread to an advanced stage. If you have a family history of cancer, it is important to undergo regular tests and cancer screenings.
Experts believe that despite all the warning signs and indicators, it is hard to predict the exact response of an individual to a certain form of cancer.
How can you cut down your risk?
Reducing your risk for cancer is not a challenging endeavor, as it simply requires you to make some mindful lifestyle changes. For instance, quit smoking, drink alcohol moderately, and establish a regular exercise regime.
You must be vigilant about applying sunscreen before going out, investigate your family history, and get regular cancer screenings. Your doctor will help you identify unusual signs and establish a thorough health regime to reduce your risk.
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- High Blood Pressure. Siteman Cancer Center.
- Adrenal Cancer. Cedars-Sinai.
- Blood Clots (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and Cancer. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.