Early Warning Signs of Cancer
Early detection is your best defense against cancer. Cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the site of the disease. Recognizing the symptoms and knowing when to seek treatment can save your life. Notify your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following seven cancer warning signs, as identified by the American Cancer Society:
1. Changes in bowel or bladder habits -- Diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days or any rectal bleeding or blood in the stool can be symptoms of colorectal cancer. Changes in bladder habits, including frequent urination or feeling as if you need to go but not being able to urinate, or any blood in the urine may be symptoms of bladder cancer. But, there may be other causes for these problems, so see your doctor for evaluation.
2. Sores that don't heal -- The most common sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, such as a growth or a sore that won't heal. Sometimes there may be a small lump. This lump can be smooth, shiny and waxy looking, or it can be red or reddish brown. Skin cancer may also appear as a flat red spot that is rough or scaly. Not all changes in the skin are cancerous, but a doctor should be seen if changes in the skin are noticed.
3. Obvious changes in a mole or wart --Spots on the skin that change in size, shape, or color should be seen by a doctor right away. Any unusual sore, lump, blemish, marking, or change in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of skin cancer, especially the more serious form, malignant melanoma.
4. Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge -- If you have gone through menopause, it is especially important to report unusual bleeding or spotting to your health care provider. These may be symptoms of uterine cancer. The majority of patients diagnosed with uterine sarcoma have complained of post-menopausal bleeding or, if still menstruating, spotting or bleeding between periods.
5. A new lump or thickening in a breast or elsewhere -- Change such as development of a lump or swelling, skin irritation, redness or dimpling, nipple pain or retraction, or a discharge other than breast milk, should be seen by your health care provider for evaluation.
6. Difficulty swallowing or frequent indigestion -- These may be signs of pharyngeal, esophageal or stomach cancer. Other symptoms may include unintended weight loss, lack of appetite, abdominal pain or vague discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the umbilicus (navel), a sense of fullness in the upper abdomen, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, or ulcer-type symptoms
7. A bothersome cough or hoarseness --Symptoms that do not improve within two weeks should be evaluated by a doctor as they may indicate laryngeal, hypopharyngeal or lung cancer. Other symptoms to report include sore throat, trouble swallowing, pain with swallowing, trouble breathing, ear pain that doesn't go away, lump or mass in the neck.
Do not rely solely on these warning signs to detect cancer. Follow your doctor's or health care provider's recommendations for screening tests, such as mammograms and colon cancer screenings.
When these or other symptoms occur, they are not sure signs of cancer.
Symptoms may be caused by infections, benign tumors, or other problems.
It is important to see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms
or if you are concerned about other changes in your body or the way
you feel. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis. Don't wait to feel
pain. Early cancer usually does not cause pain.
Early Warning Signs
If you have any of these early warning signs, contact your physician.
Early detection is essential for improved survival for patients with
cancer. Although these signs may seem vague, they may indicate that
cancer is present.
A Sore that does not Heal
Unusual Bleeding or Discharge
Thickening or Lump in Breast or Elsewhere
Indigestion or Difficulty in Swallowing
Obvious Change in a Mole or Wart
Nagging Cough or Hoarseness