There are many different kinds of cancer, and as a group they can cause almost any sign or symptom. So, just because you have a symptom doesn’t mean you have cancer. The important thing is to recognize that your body is telling you it needs help and that you need to take action. That means going to a cancer specialist sooner than later.
Bellin Health is a proud sponsor and team member of Packers vs. Cancer. Together, along with the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation, we are raising awareness and raising money to help make cancer in all its forms a thing of the past.
Unexplained weight loss
Cancer almost always causes a weight loss at some point. If you experience a loss of 10 pounds or more and you don’t know why, seek help. You want to rule out cancer that affects the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, or even lung cancer.
Because cancer often affects the immune system, a prolonged, unexplained fever might be your body’s way of alerting you that there is a bigger issue.
Unexplained fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest can be an early sign of some cancers, like leukemia or colon cancer.
There are some cancers that cause pain. A headache that does not go away or does not get better with treatment may be a symptom of a brain tumor. Back pain can be a symptom of cancer of the colon, rectum, or ovarian cancer.
If you notice skin changes, don’t ignore them. While the changes could be attributable to many things, cancer is a possibility that needs to be examined sooner than later. Here are some things you want to watch:
Additionally, any wart, mole, or freckle that changes color, size, or shape, or that loses its sharp border should be seen by a doctor right away.
Bowel or bladder changes
If you experience constipation or diarrhea that doesn’t get better with treatment, or if you have blood in your stool, see a doctor to rule out colon cancer. Other symptoms that should be given attention are pain when passing urine, blood in the urine, or a change in urination habits, like going to the bathroom more often.
Sores that don’t heal
Sores that bleed or don’t heal should be taken seriously. Don’t wait; see a doctor. A long-lasting sore in the mouth could be an oral cancer. Non-healing sores on the penis or vagina could be an early symptom of cancer.
White patches inside the mouth and white spots on the tongue could be a pre-cancerous condition caused by frequent irritation like smoking or other tobacco use. If it’s not treated, this condition, called leukoplakia, can become mouth cancer.
Bleeding or discharge
Any unusual bleeding should be taken seriously. This includes blood in the urine, stool, or blood that comes from the vagina or nipple.
Thickening or lumps
A lump or thickening may be a sign of cancer and should be reported to a doctor, especially if you’ve just found it or notice it has grown in size. Keep in mind that some breast cancers show up as red or thickened skin rather than a lump.
Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
Indigestion or problems swallowing that don’t go away may be signs of cancer of the esophagus, stomach, or throat. Even though, like most symptoms on this list, these symptoms are most often caused by something other than cancer, see a doctor to rule it out.
Cough or hoarseness
A cough that does not go away may be a sign of lung cancer. Hoarseness can be a sign of cancer of the larynx or thyroid gland.
There are many cancer symptoms not listed here, and it’s not healthy to interpret every ache and pain as cancer. So, our best advice to you is to be vigilant in monitoring changes in the way your body works and feels. Know your risks and participate in age-appropriate screenings. See your doctor as he or she recommends.