Don’t rely on routine tests alone to protect you from cancer. It’s just as important to listen to your body and notice anything that’s different, odd, or unexplainable.
Here are some signs that are commonly overlooked:
1. Wheezing or shortness of breath
One of the first signs many lung cancer patients remember noticing is the inability to catch their breath.
2. Chronic cough or chest pain
Several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung tumors, can cause symptoms that mimic a bad cough or bronchitis. Some lung cancer patients report chest pain that extends up into the shoulder or down the arm.
3. Frequent fevers or infections
These can be signs of leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells that starts in the bone marrow. Leukemia causes the marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells, sapping your body’s infection-fighting capabilities.
4. Difficulty swallowing
Trouble swallowing is most commonly associated with esophageal or throat cancer, and is sometimes one of the first signs of lung cancer, too.
5. Swollen lymph nodes or lumps on the neck, underarm, or groin
Enlarged lymph nodes indicate changes in the lymphatic system, which can be a sign of cancer.
6. Excessive bruising or bleeding that doesn’t stop
This symptom usually suggests something abnormal happening with the platelets and red blood cells, which can be a sign of leukemia. Over time, leukemia cells crowd out red blood cells and platelets, impairing your blood’s ability to carry oxygen and clot.
7. Weakness and fatigue
Generalized fatigue and weakness is a symptom of so many different kinds of cancer that you’ll need to look at it in combination with other symptoms. But any time you feel exhausted without explanation and it doesn’t respond to getting more sleep, talk to your doctor.
8. Bloating or abdominal weight gain
Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer overwhelmingly report unexplained abdominal bloating that came on fairly suddenly and continued on and off over a long period of time.
9. Feeling full and unable to eat
This is another tip-off to ovarian cancer; women say they have no appetite and can’t eat, even when they haven’t eaten for some time.
10. Pelvic or abdominal pain
Pain and cramping in the pelvis and abdomen can go hand in hand with the bloating that often signals ovarian cancer. Leukemia can also cause abdominal pain resulting from an enlarged spleen.
11. Rectal bleeding or blood in stool
This is a common result of diagnosing colorectal cancer. Blood in the toilet alone is reason to call your doctor and schedule a colonoscopy.
12. Unexplained weight loss
Weight loss is an early sign of colon and other digestive cancers; it’s also a sign of cancer that’s spread to the liver, affecting your appetite and the ability of your body to rid itself of wastes.
13. Upset stomach or stomachache
Stomach cramps or frequent upset stomachs may indicate colorectal cancer.
14. A red, sore, or swollen breast
These symptoms can indicate inflammatory breast cancer. Call your doctor about any unexplained changes to your breasts.
15. Nipple changes
One of the most common changes women remember noticing before being diagnosed with breast cancer is a nipple that began to appear flattened, inverted, or turned sideways.
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