We often take our body for granted, but human body machinery is so well coordinated and well designed that it timely send signals to alarm us, but unfortunately, we keep on ignoring them.
Very often, people happen to visit the doctors at an advanced stage of cancer. Ignorance is not always bliss. Early detection of cancer and early diagnosis can decrease net morbidity and mortality associated with cancer and improve quality of life.
The cases of people dying with cancer has increased a lot in recent times, but most of the cases happened due to ignorance of the early symptoms. This is true that most of the diseases have common symptoms like headache, body-aches, irritation or body pain. But still the persistent symptoms should be considered and taken care by individuals.
Most cancers are symptomatic before diagnosis. However, different cancers may represent different sets of signs and symptoms. But, the fact remains the same, early diagnosis has a better prognosis, reduces overall cancer-related morbidity and mortality.
Most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by something other than cancer. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Key Signs and Symptoms one should not Ignore
1. Unusual Lump or Swelling
Any swelling or lump in any part of the body should not be ignored. Cancerous lumps are often painless and may increase in size as cancer progresses. Most common sites of lumps are neck, armpit, stomach, groin, chest, breast or testicle. Lumps can be the first symptom of breast cancer for many women.
2. Coughing, Breathlessness or Difficulty in Swallowing
Persistent coughing or coughing getting worse, breathlessness or difficulty swallowing should not be ignored.
3. Changes in Bowel Habits
Constipation and diarrhoea and/or blood found in the stools that are not related to a change in diet.
4. Unexpected Bleeding
Any blood loss from the vagina, anal passage, in stools and urine or when coughing.
5. Unexplained weight loss
A large amount of unexplained and unintentional weight loss over a short period of time (a couple of months). An unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. This happens most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, oesophagus (swallowing tube), or lung.
Extreme tiredness and a severe lack of energy. Cancer cells require energy for the division, use up much of the body’s energy supply, or they may release substances that change the way the body makes energy from food.
if you have unexplained, ongoing pain, or pain that comes and goes, make an appointment to see your doctor.
7. Very Heavy Night Sweats
Very heavy, drenching night sweats can also be a sign of cancer and should be checked out by your doctor.
8. Croaky Voice or Hoarseness
A croaky voice or hoarseness that hasn’t gone away on its own should be checked out by your doctor.
9. Persistent heartburn or indigestion
Very frequent episodes of heartburn or indigestion, particularly with pain, then you should see your doctor.
10. Mouth or Tongue Ulcer that won’t Heal
Mouth ulcers are a very common occurrence with a plethora of reasons. Usually, these heal on there own by 2 weeks as the lining of the mouth renews itself every 2 weeks. But an ulcer that doesn’t heal after 3 weeks should be reported to your doctor or dentist.
11. Persistent bloating
If you feel bloated, most days, even if it comes and goes, make an appointment to see your doctor
12. Appetite Loss
Appetite loss can happen for many different reasons. Speak to your doctor if you’ve noticed you’re not as hungry as usual and it’s not getting any better.
13. Skin and Mole Changes
Along with skin cancer, some other cancers can cause skin changes. Unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings, or changes in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer or a warning that it might occur.
These signs and symptoms include:
- Darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Reddened skin (erythema)
- Itching (pruritis)
- Excessive hair growth
In most of the cases, moles are not an issue. Normal appearing mole is of a single colour which is evenly distributed- brown, tan, or black spot which may feel flat or raised when touched. The shape of the mole may vary from round to oval. Size of the normal mole is not more than 6 millimetres (about ¼ inch). Normally, a mole usually stays the same size, shape, and colour for many years, some may eventually fade away. So, change in shape, size and colour of existing mole and appearance of a new mole should be consulted with the doctor.
The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of a cancerous mole.
- A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C is for Color: The colour is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimetres, although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
- E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or colour.
Some melanomas don’t fit these rules. Other warning signs are:
- Non-healing sore
- The spread of pigment from the border of a spot into the surrounding skin
- Redness or a new swelling beyond the border of the mole
- Change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
- Change in the surface of a mole – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump
14. Unusual Breast Changes
Any change in the size, shape or feel of a breast, any skin changes, redness, or pain in the breast. Fluid leaking from the nipple in a woman who is not pregnant or breastfeeding is abnormal.