8 Possible Signs of Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore
Learn about the early signs of cancer
For two years and counting, the Covid-19 pandemic has been in the spotlight. As we try our very best to stay safe, there are some sacrifices that we had to make.
For some individuals, such sacrifices might include delaying their annual health screenings and medical check-ups. Now, these are rather big sacrifices especially when health screenings help us to understand the state of our health better.
When it comes to detecting cancer especially at its early stage, health screenings are one of the best ways to go about it. With the current circumstances, health screenings might not be the preferred option for many and while nothing can replace the importance of a health screening, identifying any changes to your body could help you detect a health concern and concurrently, seek advise from a medical professional.
That’s right, you too can pick up early warning signs of cancer by paying close attention to physical changes. Of course, not all physical changes that you experience might be caused by cancer but it’s always good to learn about some of the early warning signs and be alert.
Here’s a list of some of the common red flags that could be a sign of cancer.
#1 CHANGES TO YOUR BREAST
A new lump, discolouration and unusual nipple discharge are some common signs of breast cancer. Of course, not all breast lumps are cancerous but especially if you identify a lump that is growing, it’s best to consult a doctor.
The best way to identify these changes is to know the feel and look of your breasts through regular breast self-examinations. If possible, don’t forget to schedule your routine mammograms and breast ultrasound as they can effectively identify lumps that could be cancerous. Also, do note that a common myth is that cancerous breast lumps are painful. As a matter of fact, it’s the opposite. Most cancerous breast lumps are painless and this is why it’s important to be alert for any changes to your breasts.
Now, before your anxiety levels rise, it’s best to be clear that feeling bloated every now and then is absolutely normal. Bloating is often caused by the type of food that you eat. In most cases, it would typically subside over a couple of hours or with the help of some medication.
Bloating as an early warning sign of cancer however, should be a concern if the bloating persists for more than two weeks. This could be a sign of ovarian cancer or gastrointestinal cancer. Of course, it’s best not to assume and consulting a doctor would be best.
#3 A NEW MARK ON YOUR SKIN
Moles and birthmarks appear naturally and they generally cause no harm to your health. However, if you find that a mark on your skin is starting to look odd such as changes in its colour, gets bigger, doesn’t heal and if the affected area has a bleed that cannot stop, these are some of the signs of skin cancer.
Skin cancer can affect anyone but the risk increases if you’ve more exposure to direct sunlight and UV radiation over your lifetime.
#4 ABNORMAL PERIODS
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a common sign of endometrial cancer. As a matter of fact, 90 percent of women diagnosed with endometrial cancer experience this symptom.
“What does abnormal bleeding mean?”, you might ask. Well, to simply put it, abnormal bleeding is when there is a change to your menstrual cycle, bleeding after menopause and bleeding between periods. These changes could also be caused by a non-cancerous problem such as hormonal changes. Plus, in some circumstances, endometrial cancer might also cause abnormal discharge that may not be bloody.
The best way to identify the reason behind these changes is to consult a gynaecologist.
#5 BLOOD IN YOUR STOOL
Do you take a quick peep into the toilet bowl after doing the number two? If it’s not a habit of yours, you might want to start cultivating it. This might sound a little gross and if you’re having your lunch while reading this, you will probably want to read this a little later. Familiarising yourself with the way your feaces looks, can help you notice any cause for concern. Blood in your stools and persistent changes in the way it looks such as loose stools, could be a sign of cancer. Do note that blood in your stools isn’t necessarily bright red. The colour of the blood depends on where the affected area is. For example, bright red could indicate that there is bleeding in your rectum or at the end of your intestines. A darker shade on the other hand, could mean that the affected area is higher up of your digestive tract. Nonetheless, if you’ve spotted blood in your stools, don’t wait and consult a doctor as soon as possible. You may be required to undergo a series of tests such as colonoscopy to identify the problem.
#6 A LOSS IN APPETITE
From the common flu to feeling low, there are many reasons as to why a person may lose his or her appetite. One other possible reason is that it could be a sign of a more serious health concern – cancer.
Cancers such as stomach, colon, pancreatic and ovarian can put pressure on your stomach. This can cause a decrease in your appetite as you feel like you’re too full to have a meal. Again, there a lot of possibilities and if you’re finding it a little bit difficult to pinpoint the reason why, the best person to seek help from is your doctor.
#7 A PERSISTENT COUGH
Coughing is a common symptom for many medical conditions including Covid-19. In most cases, a cough will subside after a couple of days, unless you’ve tested positive for Covid-19.
If it’s none of the above, a persistent cough and possibly one with traces of blood, could be a sign of lung cancer. This symptom is usually accompanied by several other signs such as shortness of breath, weight loss, fatigue and voice hoarseness. Especially if you’re a smoker, there is an increased risk of lung cancer and if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s definitely not to be taken lightly.
#8 EXTREME FATIGUE
This is one of the most common symptoms of cancer. Extreme fatigue is not to be confused with tiredness or burnout. In the case of cancer, extreme fatigue is explained as persistent exhaustion.
If you’re still feeling exhausted and have a low level of energy despite getting your much needed rest, it’s best to consult a doctor. Such symptoms could be a sign of lymphoma or leukemia.
You might argue that any symptom could be a warning sign for cancer. So, how would you know if a doctor’s consultation is necessary?
Well, again, one way is to know your body well. When you’re aware of your body, you’ll be able to identify alarming changes as soon as possible. Now, that’s not all. If you do realise a sudden change such as any of the above signs, the next step to take is to consult a doctor. It can feel a little nerve-wrecking for the fear of the unknown but it’s also good to have a peace of mind by knowing the exact cause of the physical changes you’re experiencing.
These red flags are possible signs of cancer but they could also be the reason behind another underlying condition. The best way to go about this is to speak to a doctor as soon as possible. After all, the aim here is to receive the right medical intervention soonest as this can relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.