To protect ourselves from the coronavirus, many of us are putting off our annual check-ups and screenings, which are often associated with cancer. It’s understandable. However, early detection is one of the best weapons against the disease.
Screening can detect cancer before symptoms appear. You too can pick up early warning signs by paying attention to changes in your body. If you notice something new or different that lasts a few weeks or lasts a few weeks, see your healthcare provider. Not all signs of cancer are cancer. Here are 17 symptoms that should prompt you to call your doctor.
- Abnormal periods or pelvic pain
Most women experience irregular periods and cramps from time to time. However, persistent pain and changes in your cycle may be a sign of cervical, uterine or ovarian cancer.
- Change in bathroom habits
Significant changes in physical activity may indicate colon, prostate, or bladder cancer, among other cancers. Warning signs include persistent constipation and diarrhea; black or red blood in the stool; black, tarry stools; urinate more often; and blood in your urine.
We all feel bloated from time to time. But bloating for more than two weeks can be a sign of ovarian cancer, as well as various gastrointestinal cancers.
- Breast changes
These include new lumps and bumps around the nipple, discoloration, and unusual discharge that hasn’t happened before. Although most breast cancer occurs in women, men can also develop it.
- Chronic cough
A cough that lasts longer than two weeks, especially a dry cough, can be a sign of lung cancer.
- Chronic headache
Headaches that last longer than two weeks and do not respond to conventional medications may be caused by a brain tumor.
- Difficulty swallowing
If you feel like your throat is stuck or have trouble swallowing for more than two weeks, it could be a sign of throat, lung, or stomach cancer.
- Excessive bruising
A bruise on the shin from bumping into the coffee table is normal. But suddenly many bruises in unusual places where there are no bumps can indicate the presence of various types of blood cancer.
- Frequent fever and infection
Repeated fevers or transitions from one infection to another may indicate an immune system that has become more sensitive to lymphoma or leukemia.
- Oral changes
Persistent sores, injuries, and sore spots in the mouth, especially in smokers and drinkers, can indicate various types of oral cancer.
- Skin changes
A change in the appearance of a mole or birthmark will be evaluated by a healthcare provider in person or through a video examination. Use this handy mnemonic, ABCDE, to remember which changes are cause for concern.
Asymmetry: One side of a mole or mark is not the same as the other.
Borders: The edges are irregular or blurred.
Color: It is both black and brown, which are varied or inconsistent.
Diameter: It is bigger than a pencil eraser.
Evolving mole: This is any mole that grows, bleeds or changes over time.
- Constant pain
You should be evaluated for persistent pain in any part of your body that doesn’t have a clear cause and doesn’t respond to standard treatment.
- Constant fatigue
A sudden and persistent change in your energy level, no matter how much sleep you get, could be a sign of leukemia or lymphoma.
- Postmenopausal bleeding
There are several reasons for this, but if it persists, your doctor may want to check for cervical or uterine cancer.
- Stomach pain and nausea
Unusual discomfort that lasts more than two weeks can be a sign of various cancers of the liver, pancreas, or digestive system.
- Unreasonable weight loss
Weight varies. But when you’re not trying, weight loss or loss of appetite can be a sign of many types of cancer, especially metastatic cancer.
- Unusual crowding
Any new lump or mass that does not go away should be evaluated. If the lymph nodes swell when you catch a cold, but the swelling does not go away after recovery, you should see a doctor.
UCSF Health experts reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns with your provider.