This article will briefly discuss the seven common signs and symptoms of cancer that you should be aware of.
Cancer can present with a host of signs and symptoms. In medical terminology, these signs and symptoms are known as the clinical manifestations of the underlying cancer. While different types of cancers present with their own specific set of signs and symptoms, they do share some clinical manifestations. These common signs and symptoms may not specifically describe the types of cancer, but they can indicate the presence of cancer in the body.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms of Cancer
1. Persistent Cough
A persistent cough usually signifies a minor respiratory issue such as bronchitis or sinusitis. However, in many cases, it can mean something worse. Persistent cough, especially accompanied by blood-tinged sputum, can indicate cancer of the head and neck region or lung cancer. Hence, a relentless cough that lasts for more than a month needs proper medical attention.
2. Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss is one of the common non-specific symptoms of underlying cancer. This type of weight loss is referred to as ‘unexplained’ because it is not caused by dietary modifications or a sedentary lifestyle. For weight loss triggered by underlying cancer, no specific causes can be determined. Unexplained weight loss is a common symptom that can be seen in different types of cancers.
3. Swellings or Lumps
A swelling or a lump underneath the skin resulting in a bulge can indicate the presence of a tumor. A tumor can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Therefore, although a swelling indicates a tumor in most cases, it may not always be cancer. However, it is essential to see a doctor if you see a lump or swelling, as, through further clinical exams, it can be determined whether or not the lump is cancerous. The most common areas where a lump can form include the underarm, neck, and groin region. In women, breast lumps should also be checked, as that can be a sign of breast cancer. Breast lump accompanied by nipple discharge is often an indicator of breast cancer.
4. Bowel Changes
Prolonged constipation, excess diarrhea, blood in stools, melena (black stools), painful defecating, and abdominal pain can all indicate underlying gastrointestinal disease. While these signs and symptoms could be seen in various non-cancerous diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, they could also suggest the presence of underlying cancer. Hence, the presence of any gastrointestinal symptoms that don’t resolve with over-the-counter drugs or persist longer than expected should be followed-up with a doctor.
5. Eating Problems
Cancer can cause different types of symptoms following meals. Some of the common eating problems associated with cancer include appetite changes, excess bloating and flatulence, nausea and vomiting, persistent heartburn (burning sensation in the chest), and trouble in swallowing food and beverages. These symptoms could be seen in non-cancerous conditions, but they can also indicate some form of underlying cancer.
6. Unexplained Fever or Night Sweats
Fever or night sweats without any known cause can often indicate the presence of underlying cancer. These symptoms could be seen in different types of cancers but are most commonly seen in blood cancer. Night sweats could be an early sign of lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting the body’s lymphatic system.
The term fatigue means a general sense of tiredness and weakness. Ordinarily, a person can feel fatigued after strenuous work or even a highly active day. However, when fatigue is severe and persistent, it could indicate an underlying cancer.