You've been feeling tired, pasty and bloated lately. These are some of the many signs that you might have cancer. While imaging procedures like CT scans can help to determine if you do indeed have cancer, it's also important to remember that every person is unique with their own set of symptoms.
So, just because you have a specific symptom that is common in colon cancer does not automatically mean that you have cancer. For example, a lack of appetite and nausea are also symptoms in various other diseases, such as gallstones and autoimmune disorders. The good news is, however, if it turns out you do indeed have cancer, treatment can be highly effective if the disease is diagnosed early. So, if you notice several of these symptoms in yourself or someone you love, it's time to see a doctor and get things checked out.
1. Unexplained weight loss: If you've lost more than 5 percent of your body weight without trying (or 15 pounds if you're a woman and 10 pounds if you're a man), it's time to get checked. Weight loss can be associated with cancer of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus or liver.
2. Persistent cough: While you might just have a cold (or bronchitis), persistent coughing could also signify lung cancer. A coughing up blood might be another warning sign of lung cancer, especially if it's accompanied by shortness of breath.
3. Detectable masses or lumps: Most tumors are easily detected either through self-examination or during a routine physical. This is why the American Cancer Society recommends that you get yourself checked for breast, testicular, and skin cancers (including melanoma) once a month. Testicular cancer is often accompanied by a painless swelling in the testicles. Breast cancer can cause one or more lumps in the breast, while melanoma may be indicated by new or unusual moles that change color, size or feel.
4. Bone pain: If you feel like someone has been beating up your bones, or you're experiencing unexplained bone fractures, it's possible that cancer may be to blame. While it can be a symptom of lung and kidney cancers, bone pain is also associated with leukemia and multiple myeloma where the tumors affect the bones.
5. Testicular or breast lumps: You may feel a lump in your breast or in the testicles and think it's odd. While most lumps aren't cancerous, you shouldn't ignore them — especially if they've been there for more than two weeks. It could be linked to an infection or tumor, so see your doctor immediately.
6. Vaginal bleeding: While there are many reasons that you might be spotting, unexplained vaginal bleeding is a symptom of cervical or ovarian cancer. There may also be an accompanying lower back pain or irregular menstruation.
7. Unexplained weight gain: If your pants fit better than usual and you can't seem to figure out why, it's possible you have cancer. Even if you haven't changed your eating habits, the extra weight may be due to tumors in the pancreas or liver.
8. Persistent indigestion: It might just be acid reflux, but unexplained persistent indigestion is also a possible warning sign of stomach cancer. Indigestion accompanied by weight loss, nausea, vomiting or a low fever might also be reasons to go see your doctor.
9. Shortness of breath: You might just need some new running shoes instead of telling yourself that you're out of shape but shortness of breath can indicate lung cancer. It could also mean an infection in the lungs or pneumonia, but make sure to get it checked out.
10. Snoring: It could be a sign of sleep apnea, which can increase your risk for lung cancer if left untreated. People who are obese also have an increased risk for throat cancer in part due to snoring caused by excess tissue in the throat.
11. Nosebleeds: While you may think a nosebleed is no big deal, it actually can be a sign of cancer in the nasal passages or sinuses. As with other bleeding, make sure to get it checked out if it's persistent and accompanied by headaches or facial pain.
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