Cancer is a group of diseases that can cause almost any sign or symptom. The signs and symptoms will depend on where the cancer is, how big it is and how much it affects the organs or tissues. If a cancer has spread (metastasized), signs or symptoms may appear in different parts of the body. A significant percentage of newly diagnosed cancers can be cured. Cancer is more curable when detected in early stage. Although some cancers develop completely without symptoms, the disease can be particularly devastating by ignorance of symptoms because we do not think that these symptoms might represent cancer.
Introduction to Cancer Symptoms and Signs
Cancer often has no specific symptoms, so it is important that people should limit their risk factors and undergo appropriate cancer screening. Treatment works best when cancer is found in early stage. We should know some of the general signs and symptoms of cancer. But remember, having any of these does not mean that we have cancer – many other things cause these signs and symptoms, too.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Skin changes
- Change in bowel habits or bladder function: Long-term constipation, diarrhea, or a change in the size of the stool may be a sign of colon cancer. Pain when passing urine, blood in the urine, or a change in bladder function (such as needing to pass urine more or less often than usual) could be related to bladder or prostate cancer.
- Sores that do not heal: Skin cancers may bleed and look like sores that don’t heal. A long-lasting sore in the mouth could be an oral cancer
- White patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue: White patches inside the mouth and white spots on the tongue may be leukoplakia. Leukoplakia is a pre-cancerous area that’s caused by frequent irritation.
- Unusual bleeding or discharge: Unusual bleeding can happen in early or advanced cancer. Coughing up blood may be a sign of lung cancer. Blood in the stool (which can look like very dark or black stool) could be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. Cancer of the cervix or the endometrium (lining of the uterus) can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding. Blood in the urine may be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer. A bloody discharge from the nipple may be a sign of breast cancer.
- Thickening or lump in the breast or other parts of the body: Many cancers can be felt through the skin. These cancers occur mostly in the breast, testicle, lymph nodes (glands), and the soft tissues of the body.
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing: Indigestion or swallowing problems that don’t go away may be signs of cancer of the esophagus (the swallowing tube that goes to the stomach), stomach, or pharynx (throat).
- Recent change in a wart or mole or any new skin change: A skin change may be a melanoma which, if found early, can be treated successfully.
- Nagging cough or hoarseness
- Changes in Lymph Nodes
Warning Signs of Cancer:
- Change in bowel or bladder habits.
- A sore that does not heal.
- Unusual bleeding discharge per vagina/rectum.
- Thickening /lump in breast or elsewhere.
- Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
- Obvious change in wart or mole.
- Nagging cough or horseness of voice.
- White patch in mouth.