When it comes to spotting cancer early, there are a number of signs to watch out for. Here are some of the most common symptoms of cancer to look for.
Are you concerned about getting cancer? Do you know the common symptoms of cancer? Becoming educated about what to watch for can ease your mind.
Always talk to your doctor if you’re worried about something. Continue reading this article to learn key things to watch for.
Understanding Benign vs. Malignant Tumors
Not all tumors are cancer. You may ask, “what’s the difference?”
Cancerous (malignant) tumors whose cells divide and grow abnormally. They take over surrounding tissues and may spread through the body. Benign or non-cancerous cells don’t invade the tissue or move through the body.
Common Symptoms of Cancer
The following are possible signs and symptoms of cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns.
1. Changes in Bowel or Bladder Patterns
Watch for changes such as needing to urinate more often, have trouble urinating, or seeing blood in the urine. Bowel changes can include ongoing diarrhea, constipation, rectal bleeding, or black, tarry stools.
2. Unusual Sores or Growths on the Skin
Skin cancers may or may not draw your attention until they are large. Signs to watch for include:
- New flat, raised, or bubble-like bumps with no known cause
- Lesions with blood vessels leading away like spokes of a wheel
- Open sores that won’t heal
- Rapid growing lesions or lumps that may have a lower center
Melanoma is one type of skin cancer. The ABCDE screening method helps detect changes in moles or warts.
- A = Asymmetry: when a line is drawn down the middle of the lesion, do the two halves match?
- B = Border: is the edge uneven, scalloped, or notched?
- C = Color: are there different colors in the lesion like black, brown, tan, red, white, or blue?
- D = Diameter or Dark: is it 6 mm or ¼ inch or bigger or is it darker than other moles?
- E = Evolving: is it changing in size, shape, color, elevation, bleeding, itching, or crusting?
If a skin lesion changes in these ways, it needs evaluation.
3. Unusual Bleeding or Discharge
Unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding that persists needs an evaluation by your doctor. Men and women should watch for discharge or bleeding from the rectum. Vomiting or coughing up blood needs immediate evaluation.
4. A New Thickening or Lump
Most people are tuned into watching for new breast lumps or masses. It’s important to watch for these same changes anywhere in the body. The mass may be painless or tender, hard or soft, or have rounded or irregular edges.
When bathing, pay attention to your body so that you can identify changes early.
5. Pain, Trouble Swallowing, or Unexplained Weight Loss
Cancers in the throat and esophagus can present with pain or trouble swallowing. It may feel like food gets stuck or causes you to choke. This can affect what and how much you eat.
Unexplained weight loss can be a concern for all types of cancers. This can result from a decreased appetite. The body’s metabolism may also increase to feed the cancer.
6. Ongoing Cough or Hoarseness
Many problems can cause a persistent cough or hoarseness. Lung and throat cancer represent possible reasons, especially in smokers. Coughs or hoarseness that lasts over 3 to 8 weeks needs evaluation.
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