Cancer is one of the most feared conditions, and only hearing the diagnosis is always a cause of shock in patients and family members. There are many screening tests to reduce the incidence of cancer, but prevention should always start on our side. If we do not neglect our symptoms and talk to a health professional about them, it will be easier to detect any abnormality and provide early treatment, including cancer.
However, is there a way to know I have cancer? In this article, we are going to cover 13 signs of cancer you can’t ignore. They are as follows:
1- Weight loss
People with cancer often experience weight loss at some moment in the disease. When you lose weight for no apparent reason, this is called unexplained weight loss. Weight loss is a sign of cancer and many other severe diseases, and you should get thoroughly examined to know the real cause if you’re not changing your diet or doing more physical exercise to promote weight loss.
2- Lumps and tumours
Cancer cells may start growing in any part of the body, and the majority of them are detected as an alteration in the normal surface of body organs. Sometimes these alterations are visible through the skin and sometimes you can feel them underneath. That is the case of breast cancer and testicular cancer. In both cases you will be able to feel a mass or lump that should be examined by your doctor before you start feeling anxious about it.
3- Muscle wasting
muscle wasting symptoms In cancer, there is an exaggerated consumption of energy, and in some point, it becomes impossible to replenish body energy sources. Thus, the body enters a catabolic state, which means it starts breaking down other structures to turn proteins into energy. This is
what happens to the muscles and patients undergo muscle mass reduction, muscle weakness, and low energy levels at the same time.
4- Loss of appetite
Appetite Changes in appetite are common if you have cancer. People with little appetite or loss of appetite may eat less than usual, feel no hunger at all, or feel satiated after eating only a small amount. Continuous loss of appetite can lead to serious nutritional problems.
5- Unexplained bleeding
Bleeding is a symptom that is common in many types of cancer, such as colon cancer (blood in the stools), oral cancer (bleeding gums), and leukemia (coagulation problems and easy bruising and bleeding). If you suddenly and unexpectedly start having bleeding problems, talk to your doctor,
and together you will find out the reason why. It might not be cancer, but you should be advised and diagnosed as soon as possible.
Anemia is a reduction in the normal levels of hemoglobin in the blood, and it is common in many types of cancer, including leukemia, colon cancer, breast cancer, and many others. Anemia in cancer results from an imbalance of tumour necrosis factor, a cytokine
that is released to the blood and counters the effect of hemoglobin. Anemia in cancer patients is associated with other symptoms such as chronic fatigue, and it is more severe in late-stage disease.
7- Chronic fatigue
Cancer or cancer treatment often cause fatigue. Fatigue can be defined as a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that persists for a long time and is maintained after a good night’s rest. This type of fatigue is not the same as tiredness.
8- Changes in the skin
Skin cancer is not usually a growth in your skin. It usually looks like a spot with irregular margins that may change colours and has an overall irregular appearance. If you have changes in your skin or a mole that is suddenly changing its appearance, talk to your doctor to get an early diagnose of this or any other skin condition.
9- Swollen lymph nodes
Lymph nodes make up an important part of your lymphatic tissue, and they swell in response to bacteria and other pathogens. Therefore, if you have swollen lymph nodes chances are you don’t have cancer but an infectious disease. However, there are certain locations of lymph nodes that are more suspicious than others, and if you detect very big or persistent lymph nodes that do not seem normal or associated with an infectious disease, talk to your doctor. Besides cancer, he should rule out many other possibilities, including a series of viruses such as Epstein Barr and mononucleosis.
10- Escalating pain
Cancer alone often causes pain. The intensity of pain you feel depends on different factors, including the type of cancer, your stage (extension), and other health problems you have, as well as your tolerance to pain. People with advanced cancer are more likely to feel pain, and this pain is gradually increasing.
11- Changes in urination
In men, prostate enlargement and prostate cancer should be screened after 40 to 45 years old, especially if you have a family member with prostate problems or urinary symptoms such as difficulty to start urinating, urgency to urinate, blood in the urine, and others.
12- Changes in bowel habits
If you suddenly change from constipation to diarrhea and back again, it is important to understand the cause. Be especially careful if you start bleeding, as this is an additional symptom of colon cancer. However, don’t be alarmed just yet. These symptoms are likely triggered by many different diseases, and your doctor should examine your case to give you a diagnosis.
13- Changes in brain function or vision
One symptom that often alarms patients is a change in neurologic function or vision, but sometimes they are not detected in the early stage of the disease. For instance, you may have an alteration in the outer or inner corners of your visual fields and never find out until it becomes more severe. Changes in brain function such as seizures, cognitive problems, memory problems or sudden changes in the patient’s behaviour should be assessed as well because they may be related to brain tumours. Not all of them are diagnosed as cancer, but they all should be attended as soon as possible to prevent severe alterations in the central nervous system.