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Cancer Warning Signs

Overview

Researchers have made large strides in the fight against
cancer. Still, the National Cancer Institute
(NCI) estimates that there will be an astonishing 1,658,370 new cases of cancer
in 2015. From a global standpoint, cancer is also one of the leading causes of
premature death. Sometimes it can develop without warning. For the majority of
cases, however, there are warning signs. The earlier you detect possible signs
of cancer, the better the chances of survival.

Most Common Cancers

According to the NCI, the following cancers are the most prevalent in the United
States:

  • bladder cancer
  • breast cancer
  • colon cancer
  • leukemia
  • lung cancer
  • melanoma
  • non-Hodgkins lymphoma
  • pancreatic cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • thyroid cancer

The
precise symptoms can vary between forms of cancer. Furthermore, some cancers,
such as those of the pancreas, may not cause symptoms right away. Still, there
are some telltale warning signs to look out for.

Weight Changes

As cancer cells attack healthy ones, your body may respond
by losing weight. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), many undiagnosed
cancer patients unexpectedly lose 10 pounds or more. In fact, this may be the
very first sign of cancer.

Unexplained weight loss can happen in other health
conditions, such as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Still, the difference
with cancer is that it can come on rather suddenly. It is most prominent in
cancers of the:

  • esophagus
  • lung
  • pancreas
  • stomach

Fever or Blood Loss

Fever is the body’s response to an infection or illness. People
who have cancer will often have a fever as a symptom but it is usually a sign
that the cancer has spread to a new area or that it is affecting the immune
system. Fever is rarely an early sign of cancer but may be if a person has a
blood cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

Some cancers may also cause unusual bleeding. For instance,
colon or rectal cancer might cause bloody stools, while blood in the urine may
be a sign of prostate or bladder cancer. It’s important to report such symptoms
or any unusual discharge to your doctor for analysis.

Blood loss may be more discreet in stomach cancer.

Pain and Tiredness

Unexplained fatigue may be another symptom of cancer, and is
one of the most common signs. Tiredness that doesn’t seem to go away despite
adequate sleep could be a sign of an underlying health problem — cancer is just
one possibility. The ACS
says that tiredness is most prominent in leukemia. Fatigue can also be related
to blood loss from other cancers.

In some cases, cancer that has spread (metastasized) can
cause pain. For example, back pain may be present in cancers of the:

  • colon
  • prostate
  • ovaries
  • rectum

Persistent Cough

Cough can occur for a number of reasons. It is your body’s
natural way of getting rid of unwanted substances, and it can happen from
colds, allergies, the flu, or even low humidity. When it comes to lung cancer,
however, the cough can persist for a long time despite remedies. The cough may
be frequent, and it can cause hoarseness. As the disease progresses, you may even
cough up blood.

A persistent cough is also sometimes a symptom of thyroid
cancer.

Skin Changes

Skin changes are most often linked to skin cancer, where
moles or warts change or enlarge. Certain skin changes may also indicate other
forms of cancer. For instance, white spots in the mouth can indicate oral
cancer. Lumps or bumps underneath the skin can be tumors, such as in breast
cancer.

Cancer can cause other skin changes, such as:

  • dark spots (hyperpigmentation)
  • increased hair growth
  • jaundice (yellow eyes and skin)
  • redness

Cancers with No Warning
Signs

While many cancers have symptoms, some forms are more
discreet. Such is the case with pancreatic cancer, which may not show any signs
until it has progressed to an advanced stage. A family history of the disease,
as well as frequent pancreatic swelling (inflammation) may increase your risk.
If this is the case, your doctor may recommend regular cancer screenings.

Some cases of
lung cancer may also cause subtle symptoms outside of the well-known cough.
Certain types may increase blood calcium levels, which may not be detected
without lab work.

Despite the
warning signs (or lack thereof), it is impossible to know how an individual
might respond to a certain type of cancer. The symptoms vary.

Outlook

According to the NCI,
589,430 people may die from cancer in 2015. Men are more likely to suffer fatal
cases, as compared to women. At the same time, 19 million are expected to
survive cancer by 2024.

The key to becoming a statistic in the latter group is to
take charge of your health. Be sure not to miss out on your annual checkups,
and make sure you do all screenings as recommended by your doctor — this is
especially important if certain cancers run in your family. By dealing with the
warning signs early, you may improve your chances of eventually being
cancer-free.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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