Cancer is the modern day plague, the disease that kills millions of people every day worldwide and one that we still don’t have the cure for.
There are different types of cancer and hence different types of symptoms and warning signs. If you want to protect yourself you need to pay close attention to the changes in your body and make sure you consult a doctor if you notice something off, because the key to getting better is catching it in time.
An estimated 1.6 million cases of cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. last year and nearly one-third of those cases were estimated to be fatal. It’s no secret that all kinds of cancer wage war on your body and have plenty of detrimental side effects.
It’s estimated that thousands of deaths could be avoided each year if the cancer is diagnosed early; some cancers’ survival rates increase by over 70% when detected and treated early.
Key early warning signs that may indicate cancer:
Fatigue is an early warning sign of cancer. Unexplained exhaustion is the most common sign of the disease, and it as a key sign of cancer you shouldn’t ignore. Cancer-related fatigue is different than normal tiredness; it isn’t a result of activity and can’t be fixed by sleep.
Tiredness may be related to the blood loss from other cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. According to the American Cancer Society, fatigue is extremely prevalent in leukemia patients.
2. Frequent infection
Infection is frequently a sign of leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells that starts in bone marrow. It causes the marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells that hinder your body’s infection-fighting abilities.
Both cancer itself and cancer treatments like chemotherapy weaken your immune system, leaving it more prone to infections. Infections can start anywhere in the body but common sites are the mouth, skin, and lungs.
3. Loss of appetite
A lack of appetite and feeling full without eating are key signs of ovarian cancer. Stomach, pancreatic, and colon cancers can also put pressure on your stomach and make you feel too full to eat. According to WebMD, consult with your physician if you notice a change in your appetite that lasts two weeks or longer.
4. Bruising and bleeding
This is a symptom that there is some change in the red blood cells and platelets that can be caused by leukemia.
5. Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Many undiagnosed cancer patients unexpectedly lose 10 or more pounds as a result of the disease. This may be the very first sign of cancer. As cancer cells begin to attack your healthy ones, your body may respond by losing weight. Unexplained weight loss is a sign cancer has spread to the liver, affecting your appetite and the body’s ability to get rid of waste.
Cancer-associated weight loss is most prominent in cancers of the esophagus, lungs, pancreas, and stomach. Ovarian cancer patients report unexplained and ongoing stomach weight gain or bloating.
6. Difficulty swallowing
Lung, throat or esophageal cancer can often be accompanied by difficulties swallowing in the early stages.
7. Nail changes
Melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, begins in 1% of Caucasian patients and 20% of African-American patients as a brown stripe underneath the nail. Pale or white nails can be a sign of liver cancer. “Clubbing,” the enlargement of the fingers and nails that curve down over the tips, can be a sign of lung cancer.
8. Changes In Skin
Along with skin cancer, there are some other cancers also which causes skin changes that can be easily seen. These symptoms include yellowish skin and eyes due to jaundice, dark looking skin due to hyperpigmentation, excessive hair growth, itching because of pruritus, and reddened skin due to erythema.
9. Chronic cough
A chronic cough or chest pain usually indicates a common infection like bronchitis or sinusitis. If the symptoms persist longer than a month, they could indicate a more serious disease. Leukemia and lung tumors show symptoms that can mimic a bad cough or bronchitis. Some patients also report a chest pain that extends to the shoulder and down their arm.
Lumps can represent cancer or a swollen gland that’s related to cancer. While most are harmless, such as a benign cyst, any lumps or glands that remain swollen for three weeks should be evaluated.
11. Cramps or a frequent upset stomach
f you’re experiencing cramps or a sick stomach, you may be exhibiting early signs of colorectal cancer. Cramps and stomach issues are common and can be a result of multiple mitigating factors, so it’s easy to ignore these symptoms.
12. Unexplained anemia
Anemia, a condition that results from a lack of red blood cells, leaves you feeling tired, weak, and lightheaded. Cancer can slow down your body’s ability to make red blood cells or interfere with your body’s ability to use already-stored iron.
Bone marrow cancers like leukemia and lymphoma commonly cause anemia.
Cancer with no warning signs
There are a few cancers with no indicators at all. Pancreatic cancer may not show any signs until it has progressed to an advanced stage. Your doctor may recommend regular cancer screenings if you have a family history of the disease.
According to Healthline, despite the warning signs (or lack thereof), it’s impossible to know exactly how an individual might respond to a certain type of cancer, as the symptoms vary.
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