Just like any other disease, cancer sends out signals to your body to show that something is not right. These are called signs and symptoms, but the only problem is that many of them overlap with those of other common diseases, making diagnosis a challenging process. For instance, a child may have a rush, which could be a sign of allergies, skin infections, or measles.
Cancer Symptoms and Other Diseases
Cancer signs and symptoms are not always that clear, and they could be misdiagnosed or perhaps ignored. You need to understand that cancer can affect a different part of your body like the brain, breast, colon, the skin, among other body organs. Cancer symptoms depend on the location and size of the malignancy.
Cancer may be hidden, and by the time it becomes manifest, it may already be in an advanced state. For instance, pancreatic tumors can go unnoticed until they have grown large enough to disturb the surrounding organs and nerves. Sometimes a malignancy may lead to the body reacting to it in ways that are apparently unrelated with the organ affected. Lung cancer can make you feel dizzy and weak due to high calcium levels, for example.
The importance of early diagnosis
Higher chances of survival depend on how quickly a malignancy is spotted. When cancer is diagnosed early, the chances of curbing it spread and stopping it on its track are significantly higher. Small cancers can also be removed by surgery. An important example is when you are diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer at an early stage; the survival rate is 98%. However, if the cancer is deeply spread in the skin, the rate reduces to 16%.
Some cancer signs are associated with other diseases and may often be ignored over time. It is essential to look for a professional diagnosis if you notice any symptoms, especially if they have lasted for long.
Six signs and symptoms of cancer
Some of the most common signs of cancer include:
When you lose ten pounds or more without any explainable reason, it could be a sign of cancer. Unexplained weight loss can happen due to the body releasing substances to fight the malignancy, leading to a decrease in appetite, loss of muscles, and weight. Stomach, lungs, esophagus, or pancreatic cancers are commonly associated with weight loss.
Fever is a ubiquitous sign of cancer, but it is expected after the malignancy has spread. Most patients will have a fever mostly because the body’s immune system has been affected by the cancerous cells or the treatment process. Fever can also be present in early stages of leukemia.
This type of fatigue goes beyond common exhaustion. It is an extreme tiredness that does not go away even with plenty of rest. It can happen early or when the cancer is growing. Colon and stomach cancer can lead to blood loss leading to fatigue.
Persistent pain can be an early sign. A prolonged headache can indicate a brain tumor, while back pain can be a sign of rectum, ovary, or colon cancer. Pain caused by cancer often means that cancer has metastasized.
Unhealable sore wounds
Sores can also be a sign of cancer. For instance, malignant skin tumors may bleed, and the resulting sores do not heal. Oral cancer can lead to a sore in the mouth. Sores can also be a sign of infection, so it is advisable to seek professional advice.
It’s significant to keep in mind that having these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean you have cancer. It is advised to seek early private cancer treatment if you are diagnosed with cancer to increase your chances of beating cancer.
The skin may face changes like excess hair growth, itching, dark skin, or yellowish skin. These mostly happen with skin cancer, but other types of cancers can lead to the changes.
- “Defining Cancer”. National Cancer Institute. 17 September 2007
- Key signs and symptoms of cancer. Cancer Research UK. Retrieved 13 May 2020