This 2019, cancer experts estimate that U.S. doctors will diagnose 1,762,450 new cancer cases. Of these, the most common will be breast cancer, followed by lung cancer and prostate cancer.
These are grim statistics indeed. Know, however, that as of January 2019, an estimated 16.9 million people in the U.S. have survived cancer. Moreover, 67% of these survivors have survived their disease for five or more years.
That’s right. Many people who’ve had cancer pulled through and have lived to tell their tale. For many of them, the early diagnosis of cancer symptoms helped boost their survival rate.
That said, it’s best you know the signs that may signal the presence of cancerous cells in the body. If you notice one or more of the following symptoms, make sure you don’t delay a visit to an oncologist!
Table of Contents
1. Lumps or “Thickened” Areas Felt through the Skin
You can feel many types of cancers, such as breast and testicular cancer, through the skin. You may feel these symptoms of cancer as lumps or thickening. Either way, report this to your doctor right away, as they can be an early sign of these diseases.
In women, breast cancer can also cause visible and tangible changes in the breast. These include “dimples” in the breast skin or puckering of the nipple. Redness of the nipple and nipple discharge may also accompany these other symptoms.
In men, cancer lumps often occur in the testicles. Although this is a rarer type of cancer, experts estimate that 9,560 U.S. males will develop it this 2019.
Testicular cancer lumps are hard to the touch but usually painless. Some men, however, may also feel swelling and soreness in the testicle or scrotum. They may also experience a dull ache in their abdomen or lower back.
Pain is often one of the first signs of cancer, such as in cancers of the bone or the testicles. Colon, rectal, and ovarian cancers may also cause back pain. Headaches that don’t disappear, even with treatment, may signal brain tumor.
If you experience any of these pain symptoms, it is important to schedule a check-up with your doctor immediately. They may also recommend additional screening to ensure an accurate diagnosis. For example, if you are coughing up blood or experiencing chest pain, your doctor may suggest a CT lung screening to detect the presence of lung cancer. Keep in mind that chronic pain affects about a fifth of U.S. adults. Even if the pain you experience isn’t a cancer symptom, chronic pain can still be debilitating.
3. Unexplained (and Considerable) Weight Loss
Many people think that cancer patients lose weight due to chemotherapy. Granted, chemo can cause weight loss as it can reduce appetite and cause nausea and vomiting. However, it can also lead to weight gain by causing edema, which makes the body keep excess fluid.
If there’s a sudden and drastic reduction to your weight though, that can be a sign of cancer. For example, if you experience an unexplained loss of 10 pounds or more, take that as one of the early signs of cancer.
Unexplained, considerable weight loss is a common sign of stomach and pancreas cancers. It has also occurred in many patients of esophagus and lung cancers.
4. An Increase in Mole or Wart Size
If you notice a freckle, mole, or wart that has grown bigger, see your doctor right away. In fact, any change to these skin spots, be it in size, color, or shape, warrant a doctor’s checkup. These changes can result from a melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
With early diagnosis, you can get prompt treatment, which raises your odds of survival. This is especially important as experts estimate 192,310 new cases of melanoma this 2019.
5. Other Changes to the Skin
Skin cancers aren’t the only cancers that can result in visible changes to the skin.
For instance, jaundice, which makes the skin yellowish, is one of the signs of cancer of the pancreas. Red spots on the skin can signal leukemia. An itchy rash that looks like eczema can actually be mycosis fungoides, a type of lymph node cancer.
6. Non-Healing or Worsening Sores
Cancers of the skin can cause bleeding and sores that don’t get better or even worsen. Chronic mouth sores can be a symptom of oral cancer. Sores are also some of the warning signs of cancer of the penis or vagina.
Regardless of the body part affected by these sores, call your doctor right away. Again, sores often appear in the early stages of many cancers. Prompt diagnosis, such as in the case of oral cancer, can lead to successful treatment.
7. Bleeding with No Apparent Reason or Unusual Discharge
In women, unusual vaginal bleeding can result from endometrial or cervical cancer. In both males and females, bloody urine can be a symptom of cancer of the bladder or the kidney.
Lung cancer can make a person cough up blood. Stools that are so dark (to the point of being black) can signal cancer of the colon or rectum.
One in 23 Americans is at risk of colorectal cancer, cancer that can begin either in the colon or rectum. In those who do develop it, most (two-thirds of all cases) will have colon cancer.
If you notice blood in your stools accompanied by abdominal cramps or pain, see your doctor ASAP. You may also want to learn about this treatment option for colorectal cancer.
8. Other Changes to Bladder or Bowel Functions
Aside from bloody urine, an increase in the need to urinate could also be a sign of bladder cancer. This can also be a symptom of cancer of the prostate in men.
Cancer of the colon can result in extended bouts of diarrhea and constipation. It may also cause a sudden decrease or increase in the size of stools.
Do you feel extreme tiredness that doesn’t go away even after you’ve rested? In some cancers, particularly leukemia, fatigue is an early indication.
There are also some types of colon and stomach cancers that can cause fatigue. This tiredness often arises from an unnoticeable loss of blood.
Most cancer patients develop fevers especially when their cancer has metastasized. In some cases though, such as in people with leukemia or lymphoma, a fever is an early symptom of their cancer.
See A Doctor as Soon as You Notice these Cancer Symptoms
As you can see, many cancer symptoms are similar to the symptoms of many other health conditions.
If you experience several of these signs though, don’t put off calling your doctor. They can be the first warning signs of cancer, and it’s best that you get diagnosed right away.