Early diagnosis will often significantly raise the success rate in the battle against cancer. However, many cancer symptoms are also common in other illnesses, leading doctors to initially diagnose these illnesses instead of the cancer. By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll have gotten to know the nine major cancer symptoms, which should serve as a warning sign, helping you catch the cancer early and saving your life, or that of your loved ones.
Note: Of course, the first thing to do when encountering such persistent symptoms is to contact a doctor immediately.
Colon cancer is considered to be one of the deadliest forms of cancer in the western world, and manifests as growths in the lining of the colon and/or rectum. When diagnosed early enough, the success rate for treatments is very high. Adopting a healthy, active lifestyle and fiber-rich diet, as well as avoiding alcohol and processed meat can reduce the likeliness of developing this type of cancer.
Blood in the stool
The appearance of blood in the stool may indicate other stomach and intestinal illnesses, but could also server as a warning sign of colon cancer. If you find fresh blood in your stool, or have black stool, even in small amounts, this should not be ignored, and a physician should be consulted immediately.
Unusually fast or slow bowel movements
When your digestive system doesn’t work properly, it can lead to chronic diarrhea or constipation – a possible sign of colon cancer. If your bowel movements are not normal for a period of several weeks, or doesn’t respond to medical treatment, it may serve as a warning sign for cancer.
Lumps in your stomach
Unexplained loss of weight
2. Ovarian Cancer
This type of cancer attacks the ovarian tissues and is mostly common in women over the age of 50, but it can also appear in younger women. The reasons for contracting this type of cancer are not very well known. The known factors are genetic, avoiding getting pregnant, and fertility treatments.
Symptoms such as bloating, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and gas can be indicative of ovarian cancer. Since many women experience these kinds of sensitivities in their digestive system, people rarely attribute it to cancer. This is why it’s important to have these symptoms checked, if only to rule out cancer.
Skin cancer often attacks the surface of the skin, which later metastasize into other parts of the body. The main cause of this type of cancer is unprotected exposure to sunlight, and among farer-skinned individuals in particular.
A change in the shape, size or color of moles or beauty marks
Most moles and beauty marks are benign, but some may indicate the presence of skin cancer. New moles and beauty marks, ones that change their color, shape or size in a short time (weeks/months), or a change in texture to brittle/greasy/bloody – are all symptoms of skin cancer. Even if you don’t feel like having them checked, it’s important to keep an eye on them, because anyone is susceptible. Early diagnosis can save your life, even in cases of malignant melanoma.
Skin sores that don’t heal after a couple of weeks
Our skin has the ability to repair damages it experiences, but in some cases, such lesions and sores don’t heal for weeks. This must serve as a warning, so if you notice such sores on your skin, contact your GP immediately.
The appearance of spots or a change in the texture of the skin
If you notice new spots on your body, or have ones you’ve never checked, as well as a change in their color and texture, they must be tested as they can be a warning sign of cancer.
4. Breast Cancer
Breast cancer usually starts as a small, painless lump(s) in the breasts, and will later metastasize into the rest of the body. Diagnosing breast cancer quickly increases the survival rate considerably. Breast cancer is mostly common in women over the age of 50, but it can appear in any woman of any age. It is also possible for men to contract, but these cases are very rare.
Abnormal lumps or swelling of the breasts
The most common symptoms of breast cancer are the appearance of lumps, swellings or endema. They may not be painful, but should be looked at by a doctor nonetheless.
Inflammation, lumps and dimples on the breasts
Visible changes such as inflammation, bumps or dimples on the breasts could be indicative of cancer. Even if you think that the symptoms are barely noticeable, don’t ignore them – if it truly is breast cancer, early discovery can save your life.
Nipples: change in location / inflammation / secretions
If the skin of your nipple changes texture or becomes brittle, if it becomes inflamed, swollen, its shape changes and its location does as well (flattening or sinking of the nipple), or secretions occur - these are all common indicators of breast cancer. If the symptoms don’t disappear after a while, consult with your physician.
This deadly cancer is common in both women and men and leads to the formation of growths in the lungs, destroying them. The most common cause of this cancer is first and second-hand smoking of tobacco products.
Shortness of breath
Do you feel like you’re out of breath more often, even when you’re resting, or that you’re constantly wheezing, it may indicate lung cancer. If the shortness of breath is a result of an airways infection that doesn’t respond to medication, it can also serve as a warning sign.
Chronic cough or bloody cough
Coughing on its own is a common thing, especially during and after a cold or the flu. If your coughing continues for 3 weeks or longer, or gets worse, it should serve as a warning sign. Even if you’re in good health, but if the cough persists, it may indicate lung cancer. If you cough blood, even in small amounts, consult your physician immediately.
Sharp pain in the chest or shoulder when taking a deep breath
Swelling in the neck, particularly in the lymph nodes
6. Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer appears as growths in the lining of the stomach, which later spreads to the lymph nodes and the organs that are in close proximity to the stomach. The causes for this cancer are unknown, though some experts claim it’s a result of consuming preservatives. This type of cancer is more common in people 65 years of age and over.
Drastic, unintentional weight-loss
We may experience weight fluctuations throughout our lives, planned or otherwise. However, if you experience a drastic loss of weight when you haven’t changed your lifestyle, it may indicate stomach cancer.
Indigestion can occur quite often and for various reasons, but when it’s accompanied by intense pain, happens spontaneously (without any explanation), or chronic indigestion, they could be symptoms of stomach cancer. It’s important to inform your physician of these symptoms.
Growths in the oral cavity, on the tongue, lips and gums, as well as the saliva gland and tonsils are common in cases of mouth cancer. If it metastasizes, this cancer will damage the lymphatic system, as well as your head and lungs. It’s more common in men than women who are over 40. Quitting cigarettes and reducing alcohol consumption can drastically decrease the risk of contracting it.
Mouth or tongue ulcers that last for more than three weeks
Many people experience the occasional mouth ulcer, which can be caused by stress, changes in the weather or a compromised immune system. In cases where such ulcers don’t heal after three weeks, they may be symptomatic of mouth cancer.
Red or white spots in the oral cavity
Unexplained pain in the mouth or ears
Unexplained lump in the throat
Intense sore throat
Hoarseness and trouble swallowing
Oral swelling and bleeding
Color changes in the lips, gums, tongue and inner cheeks
8. Throat Cancer
Growths on the vocal chords and the lining of the throat are symptomatic of throat cancer, and can spread to the esophagus, neck, and lymph nodes. Changing to a healthy lifestyle, quitting cigarettes and alcohol can drastically reduce the risk of developing this type of cancer.
Lumps or swelling in the neck that last more than three weeks
Any inflammation or lumps you notice that last more than three weeks can be a symptom of throat cancer. Whether the swelling/lumps are painful or not, or whether they’re big or small, you will want to contact your physician.
Pain in the esophagus and trouble swallowing
When we swallow our food, it goes through our esophagus on its way to the stomach. If you are having difficulties swallowing your food, or feel pain while doing so, or feel that the food has gotten stuck in esophagus and won't go on - you should immediately check the issue with your doctor.
A chronic cough or cough with blood
Unexplained loss of weight
9. Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer for men, especially those of age 70 and above. This cancer is in fact a malignant tumor in the prostate gland, which belongs to the male's reproductive system and is located close to the bladder.
One of the most common problems of aging in men is having problems peeing. However, this is also a common symptom of prostate cancer, and so such problems should not be ignored just because you are of a certain age. Problems like passing urine frequently or trouble pushing it out or not being able to hold it - are major symptoms of this cancer.