Don’t rely on routine tests alone to protect you from cancer. It is also important to listen to your body and notice anything that is different, strange, or unexplainable.
Here are some signs that are often overlooked:
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
One of the first signs that many lung cancer patients remember noticing is the inability to catch their breath.
- 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 radiates into the shoulder or down the arm.
Did you know that cancer cells thrive in acidity? Cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment but stop existing in alkaline environments.
- Excessive fever or infections
These could be signs of leukemia, which is cancer of the blood cells that begins in the bone marrow. Leukemia causes the marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells, which impairs the body’s ability to fight infection.
- Difficulty swallowing
Trouble swallowing is most commonly associated with cancer of the esophagus or throat, and it’s sometimes one of the first signs of lung cancer, too.
- Swollen lymph nodes or lumps in the neck, armpits, or groin
Swollen lymph nodes indicate changes in the lymphatic system, which can be a sign of cancer.
- Bruising or bleeding that won’t stop
This symptom usually indicates that something abnormal is going on with your platelets and red blood cells, which can be a sign of leukemia. Over time, leukemia cells crowd out red blood cells and platelets, impairing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen and clot.
- Weakness and fatigue
Fatigue and general weakness are symptoms of many different types of cancer that you will need to look at in conjunction with your other symptoms. But any time you feel fatigued without explanation and don’t respond to getting more sleep, talk to your doctor.
- Flatulence or weight gain
Women with ovarian cancer overwhelmingly report unexplained abdominal bloating that came on more or less suddenly and continued intermittently over a long period of time.
- Feeling full and unable to eat
This is another tip for ovarian cancer. Women say they have no appetite and are unable to eat, even when they have not eaten for some time.
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
Pain and cramping in the pelvis and abdomen can go hand in hand with the bloating that often indicates ovarian cancer. Leukemia can also cause abdominal pain caused by an enlarged spleen.
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
This is a common finding for colorectal cancer. Blood in the toilet alone is a reason to call your doctor and schedule a colonoscopy.
- Unexplained weight loss
Weight loss is an early sign of colon and other gastrointestinal cancers. It’s also a sign that cancer has spread to the liver, affecting your appetite and your body’s ability to rid itself of waste.
- Upset stomach or stomach pain
Stomach cramps or frequent upset stomach may indicate colorectal cancer.
- Red, sore, or swollen breasts
These symptoms could indicate inflammatory breast cancer. Contact your doctor about any unexplained changes to your breasts.
- Nipple changes
One of the most common changes women recall before being diagnosed with breast cancer is a nipple beginning to appear flattened, inverted, or turned laterally.
- Unusually heavy or painful periods or bleeding between periods
Many women reported this as a tip-off for endometrial or uterine cancer. Order a transvaginal ultrasound if you suspect something more than routine heavy periods.
- Swelling of facial features
Some lung cancer patients report that they notice puffiness, swelling, or redness of the face. Small cell lung tumors usually block blood vessels in the chest, preventing blood from flowing freely from your head and face.
- An ulcer or skin lump that does not heal, peels, or bleeds easily
Learn about the different types of skin cancer — melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma — and be vigilant about checking the skin all over your body for odd-looking growths or spots.
- Changes in the nails
Unexplained changes to the fingernails can be a sign of several types of cancer. A brown or black line or dot under the nail can indicate skin cancer, while newly discovered “clumping” — enlargement of the tips of the fingers with nails arching on the tips — could be a sign of lung cancer. Pale or white nails can sometimes be a sign of liver cancer.