It’s a word that haunts your dreams and brings goosebumps to your skin – cancer. The National Cancer Institute says that an estimated 1,685,210 people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States and 595,690 people will die in the next year from the disease. Even though we’ve come pretty far when it comes to treatment, but the best cure is to prevent it from the start. But even if know how to prevent it, there are some signs most people ignore or just brush off as insignificant. But they’re not insignificant, they could save your life, and we’ve listed them for you. And remember, if you feel like something isn’t right, contact your doctor.
Most people look at weight loss as a positive thing, but losing weight when you’re not intending to is a sign of the early stages of certain cancers. Sixty percent of people with lung cancer and 80 percent of people with pancreatic, esophageal, and stomach cancer have lost a large amount of weight by the time of their diagnosis. So if you’re not dieting and you find yourself losing more than five percent of your body weight, make sure you contact your doctor.
It’s obvious that every single person gets tired, but there’s tired, and there’s the type of tired that makes it nearly impossible to get through the day and doesn’t go away with sleep. It’s a sign that something in your body is functioning properly, and having cancer can cause fatigue because the cancer cells are using up most of the body’s energy supply and changes the way the body uses food to make energy. It’s a common sign of cancers like stomach, colon, or leukemia.
Everyone’s had a fever before, but what does it actually mean? A fever is the body’s reaction to illness or infection. Cancer is responsible for 30 to 40 percent of fevers where its origin is unknown, which means you don’t have the flu or some other virus. When it comes to blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma, a fever could indicate their presence. Having a fever could also indicate the early stages of kidney or colon cancer, as well. It doesn’t really matter how low or high the fever is, what matters is the duration. An unexplained fever should always be checked out.
Nobody likes being in pain, but it’s a sign that something is off in your body. Pain is one of the earliest signs of bone cancer. At first, the pain may come and go and only worsen when you move it. With that being said, approximately 20 percent of men that have testicular cancer experience a sharp pain in their testicle or scrotum. When it comes to your lungs, cancer may press on nerves leading to pain in the chest, back, shoulder, or even the arm before they cause difficulty coughing or breathing. And not to be melodramatic, but that headache you have could actually be a sign of a brain tumor. Don’t panic, but if it’s consistent, get it checked out.
Talking about your bathroom habits isn’t something post people enjoy doing, but it could save your life. Cancer can sometimes block your bowels, making it difficult to pass gas or cause constipation. Constantly having diarrhea or watery stool should also be looked into, as well. Changes in the shape of your stool, such as thin, narrow, or ribbon-like stools, could be a sign of cancer causing changes in your colon. Even though you probably don’t want to talk about what’s going on in the bathroom, anything out of the ordinary that’s going on for an extended period of time should be discussed with your doctor.
Are you having a difficult time catching your breath? That’s definitely not normal. Certain types of cancer grow near the tissue surrounding your heart, which can disrupt the amount of blood the heart can pump out, leading to the shortness of breath. Having cancer in or near your lungs may cause a blockage in the tubes that carry air. Breast cancer can also cause a shortage in breath. Having increased pressure on your diaphragm – caused by a build-up of fluid in the abdomen associated with ovarian or liver cancer – can make it difficult for the lungs to expand during breathing.
The Skin Care Foundation says that every year more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all of the other cancers put together. Your skin is the window to what’s going on inside your body, and any changes happening to the skin should be taken seriously. If you have moles that develop irregular borders, or change in size or shape, you should speak to your doctor immediately. And any new growth or dark spots, dry, scaly, or pinkish patches, or sores that change, itch or bleed and won’t heal, are also indicators of skin cancer. Early treatment is absolutely essential!
You may not know this, but blood, whether it’s coming out of the end of you or the top, is not a good sign. If you catch our drift. Coughing up blood can be a sign of laryngeal cancer or lung cancer. Blood found in your urine is usually the most common sign, and the first sign, of cancer of the kidneys or bladder. Blood in your stool can be a sign of rectal or colon cancer. And bloody discharge coming from the nipple can be a sign of breast cancer. They’re all serious, but it’s also a good sign that you caught it early enough.
It’s not a pretty picture, but either is a diagnosis of oral cancer, which can be treated easily if you catch it early enough. Every one of us had a canker sore before, so there’s no need to freak out if it’s gone in a few days. The most common sign of oral cancer are a sore or lump in your mouth or on your lip that does not go away or bleeds easily. Also red and/or white patches on your tongue, gums, or cheeks that don’t go away. The inside of your mouth may also look shiny, swollen, or red. If it linger for a few weeks you should call your doctor.
Lumps are never good. They’re not always a sign of cancer, but they’re not a good sign and need to be checked out by a doctor immediately. Certain cancers, like breast, testicle, lymph nodes, such as armpits, groin, or the neck, can be felt through the skin. They can also show up as red or thickened skin rather than a lump. But what you should you be looking for? A lump that’s caused by cancer is irregularly shaped, hard, and firmly attached deep into the tissue or under the skin. It may not be painful, but it should be checked out.
The technical term for having a difficult time swallowing is dysphagia. It happens when you have a hard time getting liquid or food to pass down into the throat or mouth. It’s not pleasant and it sure isn’t a good sign. It becomes difficult to swallow because throat or mouth cancers can cause the passages of the throat to be narrowed or restricted. It’s also a common sign of certain neck and head cancers like esophageal, oropharyngeal cancer, thyroid, and laryngeal cancers. We said it before, but contact your doctor.
More often than not, a cough that won’t go away is just more of an annoyance than anything. But there are definitely times where it’s a sign that something is seriously wrong. A cough that stays around for at least eight weeks is something that needs to be checked out because at least half of the people diagnosed with lung cancer have a cough that wouldn’t go away when they were diagnosed. Excessive coughing can also be an early sign of thyroid or laryngeal cancer.
Does your stomach seem distended more often than not? And not just when you eat a big meal. Does your stomach seem to be swollen, causing your pants to fit tighter? Persistent abdominal bloating or increased abdominal size can be a sign of uterine, ovarian, or stomach cancer. Colon cancer causes the inside of the colon to be blocked, causing persistent bloating. An enlarged abdomen is also common in liver cancer because of the growing tumor or the build-up of fluids. If your stomach is bloated on most days, for three or more weeks, make sure you go see your doctor.
There’s no way to get around it – heartburn is extremely uncomfortable. Most of the time you can just get rid of it with some Tums or a change of diet. Heartburn can also be a sign of a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a potentially serious condition that can lead to esophageal cancer if left untreated. So if the Tums aren’t doing the job and you’ve had heartburn for a couple of weeks, you know what to do, head to the doctor. Even though it’s certainly not fun to entertain the thought of cancer, catching it early and speaking to your doctor could end up saving your life.