Cancer is a disease that happens when there is an uncontrolled or abnormal growth in the cells of any part of your body. It can affect any person from any walk of life regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. But the good news is that cancer is quite treatable and manageable if detected in the early stages. For early detection, you might need to know all about its symptoms like how can you tell if the symptoms you have might be due to cancer. You should be able to tell apart the non concerning symptoms from those that you shouldn’t ignore.
Just knowing the symptoms alone won’t help you much. You should be vigilant and go for regular checkups to ensure that you stay ahead in combating this disease.
Symptoms of cancer
Since there are many types of cancer, so are the symptoms. Symptoms are quite diverse for different types of cancer. Sometimes, a patient won’t have any symptoms at all. This is where the regular checkups come in. They can help a lot in the detection of cancer in the early stages and even help to identify risk factors specific to you.
Symptoms caused by cancer may be due to some other illness. But it is always advisable to get it checked especially if any symptoms last for a long period of time, for instance, a couple of weeks. Even if the symptoms are not causing pain or any discomfort, you should consult your doctor. You should not wait for the condition to worsen.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into some of the common signs and symptoms of this disease.
Pain: If you have any kind of unexplainable pain in any body part that doesn’t go away, then it could be a symptom of cancer. Usually, pain comes in the later stages of cancer but it can also happen in the early stages like in bone cancer or testicular cancer. It is a common symptom of many cancers like back pain can happen in ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
Unusual weight loss: If you are losing weight and you can’t point out the reason behind it then it could be one of the signs that many cancer patients notice.
Fatigue: If you feel exhausted and drained out of energy even after resting and if this goes on for several days, then it could be leukaemia or cancer affecting your stomach or colon.
Anaemia or very low haemoglobin: cancer can cause a steep drop in your haemoglobin. This happens in cases of leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
Breast changes: Breast cancer is a very common cancer and its symptoms are the presence of lumps, change in skin colour or irritation, and swelling in the breasts.
Fever and night sweats: You may have a fever that doesn’t go away and is accompanied by night sweats. It might mean that cancer has metastasised but all cancer patients experience it at some point.
Bleeding: You may have unusual bleeding due to cancer. For example, in the case of cervical cancer, women may have excessive bleeding from the vagina which may not be due to periods. In the case of colorectal cancer, blood may be present in your faeces while you may spit out blood while coughing in lung cancer. So, blood can show up in the places where it is not supposed to be.
Skin changes: The presence of freckles or moles that are weird in shape and colour and its size keeps growing and need to be checked out for skin cancer. You may also have redness, unusual coloration, or patches that suddenly emerged apparently for no reason. These could be due to multiple reasons, not just skin cancer.
Swelling in the lymph nodes: You should consult your physician if swelling in the lymph nodes lasts for a very long time. This also can be a symptom of cancer.
Changes in bowel movement: Any kind of strange changes in the bowel movement like the urge to empty your bowel that won’t go away, diarrhoea, constipation, etc, then it could be an early warning of colorectal cancer.
Persistent coughing: If you have a cough, especially a dry one, for a very long time and it just won’t go away then you should take it a bit seriously. This may be due to lung cancer.
Eating problems: Cancer affecting your stomach or digestive tract may cause symptoms like a feeling of always being full. Or, you may have trouble eating or swallowing, feeling nauseous or vomiting frequently, and stomach pain.
Bladder changes: You may notice changes like frequent, slow, or amount of urination, it happens for prostate cancer in men. Although the symptoms are the same for urine infection too. So, these symptoms need to be corroborated by further tests or examinations. Speaking of bladder cancer, the symptoms may be blood in the urine, or pain or burning sensation while peeing.
Lumps: Lumps may appear in unusual places, for example, in the testicles or any body parts. You may notice that this lump won’t go away and even grow in size, this is when you should talk to your doctor.
Changes in the mouth: Any kind of bruises, spots, white patches, or painful lesions, especially if you smoke or intake tobacco, can be a sign of oral cancer.
We have gone through some of the most common symptoms of cancer. Being aware and watchful of the symptoms may help you with early detection. You should note that these symptoms may or may not be due to cancer. So, you must confirm with your doctor to be sure. While the symptoms are numerous and diverse, it is not surprising that you may not develop any symptoms at all. Being aware plus leading a healthy lifestyle backed up by regular checkups is the key to combating this disease effectively.