Cancer is a serious illness and a leading cause of death in many countries. Research has lead to breakthroughs in both cancer treatment and detection, but you're also an early detection method yourself. Since you know your body best and will be aware of any changes as soon as they happen, you are a prime resource in the fight against this disease. Check out the following 20 common cancer symptoms you shouldn't ignore so you know when to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Common Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
Lumps in the Breast
Each and every month you should do your self breast exam. The idea is not to look for lumps so much as to feel for changes. The tissue feels firmer, there is a pea or marble that wasn’t there before. Your breasts suddenly have ripples in the fatty part. Don’t ignore it—see your doctor immediately.
Every month, women bloat. Our bodies get full and we ache. Women are so used to the monthly ritual that we pay little attention to changes in that cycle. Bloating that lasts longer, is stronger or painful are common cancer symptoms you shouldn't ignore. Bloating when you don’t normally have bloating should be checked.
Low Back Pain
Sudden low back pain without a cause that lasts for a few weeks should not be ignored. Women have a tendency to ignore the more subtle signs because they are used to having discomfort. If you back pain is troubling you, it could fibroids or something worse, so get it checked.
Women should never ignore abnormal bleeding. If your menstrual cycle is heavier than normal a few months in a row, see your gynecologist. If your cycle is usually heavy and suddenly it is light for a few months in a row, see a doctor. Abnormal bleeding is one of the common cancer symptoms you shouldn't ignore.
Many people are embarrassed to discuss rectal bleeding or hemorrhoids. These are part of being human. If you find blood in your stool or that you are bleeding when you go to the bathroom, see your doctor. The blood could be a small tear, might be a hemorrhoid or could be cancer. Get yourself checked; don’t suffer in silence.
If there is a foul or smelly discharge coming from your vagina, see your doctor. A simple infection could lead to cervical cancer. If the discharge occurs between periods or after menopause it is unusual and needs to be checked. If the discharge contains blood see the doctor immediately.
Unexplained Weight Loss
You’ve made no changes to your diet, you haven’t been to the gym since January yet the weight seems to be falling off. This is not a miracle, it might just be a problem. If you have unexplained weight loss, you should see your doctor quickly. Unexplained drastic weight loss is dangerous for many reasons, cancer is just one.
Unexplained Weight Gain
We all gain and lose weight, around the holidays adding 10 pounds is nothing. If you find that you haven’t made any changes to your diet or you have been going to the gym but suddenly find yourself gaining significant weight, you should see a doctor. Tumors grow quickly and can live off your fat stores, and before you know it, the 10 pounds turns into 20 pounds and then into surgery.
Changes in Lymph Nodes
When you get a cold or have a sinus infection, the lymph nodes in your neck swell to fight the infection. When you have cancer in your body, they do the same thing. If you can feel your lymph nodes, you need to see your doctor immediately. It is likely an infection, but cancer spreads throughout the body via the lymph system, so swollen lymph nodes could be a warning sign.
We are all tired. Fatigue is extreme tiredness that doesn’t get better with sleep. When you feel fatigue for extended periods of time and it is unexplained, you should see your doctor. Cancer burns much of your body’s energy and fatigue results.
You should regularly watch moles on your body for changes. If any of them get unevenly smaller or bigger, have them checked. If a mole becomes raised or changes shape, it should be checked. Normal moles are round, while cancerous moles have uneven jagged edges and grow in odd and random shapes.
Like the monthly breast exam, changes in your skin texture, cuts that won’t heal or weird bumps should be checked by your doctor. If you have a sore in your mouth that won’t heal, it could be oral cancer. Wounds that will not heal are part of the common cancer symptoms you shouldn't ignore.
If you have difficulty urinating, you should be checked. For men specifically, if you find that you feel your bladder is full but only a trickle comes out, you should get checked. If you need to urinate frequently, especially at night, see a doctor.
Changes in Testicles
Like women, men should check their testicles monthly for changes. If they are suddenly hard, heavy or you feel a lump, it will not go away. You should not ignore a lump or drastic change in your testicle. Changes in testicle size is one of the common cancer symptoms you shouldn't ignore.
Blood in Your Urine
If you find blood in your urine that isn’t associated with the menstrual cycle, you should have it checked out. It could be a sign of a bladder infection, a sexually transmitted disease or kidney cancer.
Many people have trouble swallowing from time to time. If this lasts longer than a month or happens very regularly, you should not ignore it. If eating causes you to have heartburn or to choke on your food or saliva, see your doctor.
If you find that you have a persistent cough or hoarseness of voice over a long period of time, see your doctor. This is particularly true if you are a nonsmoker but find you have a smoker’s hack. That cough could be a sign of something more serious.
Cancer is not usually painful but intense or extended pain is your body’s way of letting you know something is not right. If you have find yourself in regular unexplained pain, don’t just take ibuprofen and wait it out, see your doctor.
Belly Pain or Depressed Belly
If you have persistent belly pain or your abdomen is tender to the touch, see your doctor. If you find that an area of your abdomen is depressed or has an odd indentation, it might be a sign of cancer and should not be ignored.
If you find that you are bruising easily or that these bruises are taking a long time to heal, you should see your doctor right away. Bruises are a natural reaction to tissue damage but can also be a sign of leukemia and should not be ignored.