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Many types of cancer do not produce obvious symptoms or cause pain until the disease has progressed. Early-stage cancer symptoms tend to mimic less-threatening diseases. For example, difficulty urinating is a symptom of prostate cancer and flu-like symptoms are symptoms of acute leukemia. There are seven warning signs to watch for but it is important to note that just because you have a symptom that does not mean that you have cancer. Some symptoms are specific to certain types of cancer, it is important to note any changes. It is important to make an appointment with your physician to determine if further testing is needed if you have a symptom. Do not be afraid to discuss unusual symptoms to your physician. It could save your life!
The seven warning signs to watch for can be remembered by the word “caution”.
- Change in bowel or bladder habits
- A sore that does not heal
- Unusual bleeding or discharge
- Thickening or lump in the breast or any other part of the body
- Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
- Obvious change in a wart or mole
- Nagging cough or hoarseness
Certain cancers have specific symptoms. Below is what to watch for if you or a loved one suspect cancer.
- Bladder & Kidney: Pain & burning while urinating. Blood in urine and an increase in frequency of urinating.
- Breast: Lump(s), thickening or any changes. An increase in redness, itching, and soreness that is not associated with menstrual periods, pregnancy, or breast feeding.
- Cervical, Uterine, & Endometrial: Unusual discharge, very painful periods, heavy periods, bleeding between periods.
- Ovarian: Normally no apparent symptoms until the later stages of the disease.
- Testicular: Enlargement of a testicle, mild ache in the lower abdomen or groin, thickening of the scrotum, pain and discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum, & a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum.
- Prostate: Constant pain in the pelvis, upper thighs, or lower back. Weak and interrupted urine flow. Frequent urination.
- Colon: Changes in bowel habits such as frequent diarrhea or constipation. Rectal bleeding & blood in the stool.
- Laryngeal: Hoarse throat & persistent cough.
- Lung: Sputum with blood, heavy chest, chest pain, & persistent nagging cough that does not go away.
- Leukemia: Bone & joint pain, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, easy bruising, bleeding gums, repeated infections, & paleness.
- Lymphoma: Unexplained fever, itchy, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, enlarged & rubbery lymph nodes.
- Mouth & Throat: An ulcer in the mouth, tongue, or throat that does not heal or reappears.
- Skin: Moles that change color or size. Tumor or lump under the skin that never heals that might resemble a wart or ulceration.
- Stomach: Frequent & persistent heartburn after eating that never goes away. Weight loss and blood in vomit.
The discovery of any of these symptoms should be followed by a visit to your physician. Do not be afraid to see your physician, be concerned about not seeing your physician.