Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world, especially in terms of fatality. It is the second most common cause of death in the world, and it is unfortunate that even in today’s age of science and medicine, there is still no complete cure for it.
For those that are inflicted with the disease, the main focus is getting rid of it. The earlier that a cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat it. But in a cruel twist of fate, one of the most dangerous diseases might not show itself – at least not in an obvious way – until it has developed beyond the point of cure.
Still, while there may not be obvious signs of cancer, there are a few ways in which the malignancy reveals itself. These symptoms are things we’d dismiss as standalone issues or not even consider them to be related to cancer. And while experiencing just one of them might not be a big issue, a combination of them could be trying to tell you about a cancer in your body.
Here are 14 signs that could point to cancer you probably never thought about.
1. Unexplained Weight Loss
Weight loss is one of the most common symptoms of cancer. Up to 40% of people who were diagnosed during the earlier stages of cancer said they have had unexplained weight loss, and about 80% in the advanced stage. This sign shows up mostly in people with lung, stomach, or pancreatic cancers.
If you haven’t made any changes to your diet or exercise, and seem to be losing weight no matter how much you eat, then it might be time to consult a doctor.
Almost everyone who has cancer will experience fever at some point or the other. Although a fever can be normal and not related to cancer, it is especially worrisome if it is accompanied by bloody stool or discharge, or it it persists for a longer period of time.
Fever is a sign of early stage cancer when it comes to blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma, or even cancers in the colon or kidney.
3. Fatigue & Tiredness
Everyone gets unusually tired once in a while, but if the feeling of tiredness doesn’t go away even with plenty of rest, consult your doctor immediately. When the cancer starts attacking the healthy cells in your body, your immune system gets affected, which in turn slows your body down. This is shown externally through fatigue and tiredness.
Fatigue as an early sign of the disease is seen in cases of leukemia, or stomach and colon cancers.
4. Pain & Aches
You may also experience some sudden pain in your body that could point to cancer. This could be in the form of muscle, back, and joint pains or headaches. If treatment doesn’t seem to work for these aches, you should check for cancer.
Pain is a symptom of the cancer spreading, or metastasizing. It is present in people with colon, prostate, ovarian, and rectum cancer. Headaches that don’t go away with treatment may be caused due to a tumor in the brain.
5. Changes in Skin & Appearance
Changes in the skin could be symptoms of cancer as well. If you’ve got any warts, freckles, or moles that suddenly change shape, size or color, you might want to get it examined. White spots in the mouth may point to oral cancers, and lumps underneath the skin (especially in a woman’s breasts) could be the cause of cancer as well.
Any unusual coloration such as redness, dark spots, or jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), should be examined. Surprisingly, even increased hair growth could be a sign of cancer!
6. Change in Bowel or Bladder Movement
If you’ve been unable to get your bowel movements under control, even after a long period of time and with medication, it could be a sign of early cancer. It is especially serious if diarrhea, constipation, or a change in the size/color of your stool is accompanied by blood. These instances could be affiliated with prostate or bladder cancer.
7. Feeling of Breathlessness
Shortness of breath even if you aren’t doing any hard work or being active is a sign of an unhealthy body, a body that has been attacked by cancer. This is especially true in the case of lung cancer (or those situated close to the lung), as it could block the tubes that carry air. Additionally, breathlessness is also present in patients with liver, ovarian, or breast cancers as well.
8. Unusual Bleeding
As we’ve discussed already, unusual appearances of blood could be a sign or cancer. If you’re coughing up blood, you might have a lung or thyroid cancer. If you find blood in your urine or stool, it might be related to colon, kidney or bladder cancers. Some women with breast cancer also report blood leaking from their nipples!
Every woman should get checked for breast cancer often, or at the very least, check for lumps herself. If you give your breast a squeeze, you are sure to feel a few squishy lumps, and that’s the normal breast tissue. But if you are feeling an unusual lump that is hard and irregularly-shaped, and seems firmly attached to the soft tissue, but is not painful when squeezed, then you may have a tumor.
10. Difficulty Swallowing
We’ve all experienced difficulty swallowing when we’ve got a strep throat or a particularly horrendous cough. But in those cases, the pain fades away after a few days. If you have trouble swallowing food for seemingly no reason, then you might have a mouth or throat cancer. It can also be related to various head and neck cancers such as esophageal, oropharyngeal cancer, thyroid and laryngeal cancers.
11. Persistent Cough
As our lungs are responsible for helping us breath properly, a cough could point to lung cancer. We cough because our body is trying to get rid of unwanted substances, which is why it happens when we have the flu or something similar. This usually gets better with time and medication.
But if the cough persists, and you start spitting up blood, it could be cause for concern. This kind of cough is also hoarse-sounding and painful at times. Excessive coughing is also a common sign in laryngeal or thyroid cancers.
12. White Spots In the Mouth
If you have mouth sores that look unusual, get yourself checked out at the doctor. White spots inside your mouth could be something called leukoplakia. This is per-cancerous, but could develop into oral cancer if it is left untreated immediately.
13. Heartburn, Nausea, and Vomiting
Having trouble keeping the food you eat down? If you’re having constant heartburn and indigestion which feels similar to an ulcer (but isn’t), you could have stomach cancer. Patients with stomach cancer also have a loss of appetite, feel full with smaller meals, and experience nausea and vomiting. Heartburn could also be an early symptom of throat or ovarian cancers as well.
14. Abdominal Pain
If you’re experiencing constant stomach aches that medication doesn’t seem to help with, it might have been be caused by a stomach or pancreatic caner. Abdominal pain or discomfort is caused by swelling or the build-up of fluid in the stomach caused by cancer. Most of the time, the pain is exactly tear-inducing, you’d most probably feel a dull pain in the middle of your stomach. But what makes it risky is that doesn’t go away for a long period of time.