Cancer has been ranked to be the second leading cause of death in the United States. It affects males and females, mostly adults, however; there are also many cases of children having cancer. Risk factors are mostly based on lifestyle: meat diet, frequent eating of processed foods, smoking, excessive alcohol drinking, inadequate physical exercise, lack of sleep, over sun exposure, and even genetics. Frequent exposure to chemical hazards and radiation, especially UV rays also increases the risk.
While the statistics for cancer survival has never been high, successful treatment of this fatal disease is still possible. With early detection and medical therapy, many have actually survived cancer. The most important thing is to take heed of the early symptoms and not ignore them. Here are the top 5 warning signs of cancer you should always watch out for:
1. Changes in Bowel or Bladder habits
If you noticed frequently that there have been changes every time you go to the bathroom for a pee or poo, then it is advised that you go see your doctor. Some bladder changes may include a painful or burning sensation above the pubic area during urination, frequent urination even without drinking a lot of water, or constant voiding during the night.
Abnormal bowel movement may involve frequent diarrhea or constipation, stools with mucus, occasional stomach fullness, or cramping. Added to that are a history of black-colored stools (even without taking iron supplements because iron’s common side effects are dark stools), abdominal aching, and pressure.
2. Sores that Don’t Heal
Sores or ulceration on your skin, mouth, mole, or any part of your body that never gets better or improved is a warning sign that something is wrong.
It may also be a symptom of diabetes, but it’s better to check with your physician about it just to make sure it isn’t cancer.
3. Abnormal Bleeding or Discharge
This can be anything from recurrent painless bloody urine (for women: even if you’re not menstruating).
Blood during defecation, bleeding freckles or moles, very heavy periods, unusual vaginal or nipple discharge, vomiting blood or repeated nose bleeds. Quickly report these signs to your medical practitioner.
4. Unexplained or Unintentional Weight Loss
If you are not on a diet or not working out but you are still losing pounds especially on a short span of time, then it’s time to go for a medical checkup immediately. Losing 15 pounds for a month without even intending to lose weight could signal something wrong.
Frequent indigestion, difficulty in swallowing, or loss of appetite regularly also calls for medical attention as soon as possible.
5. Growing Lump or Mass
Breast lumps or cysts are a very common occurrence in women. While some lumps may not be threatening, especially the benign ones, many cases still develop into malignant or cancerous breast tumors. That’s why it is essential for women to always perform a monthly breast self-exam or regular mammogram to detect early any abnormalities.
On the other hand, men should also be aware of the early signs of testicular cancer. It is important to regularly check for lumps or thickening of tissues in the testicles.
Those are just the top five early signs that are generally common. Additional early manifestations may also include persistent cough and hoarseness for a month or so, chest pains, bloody sputum, enlarged lymph nodes, night sweats, unexplained fever that does not go away, changes in the size, shape, and color of moles or freckles and frequent fatigue.
Some manifestations may not actually indicate cancer. It may be caused by another disease or condition. Nevertheless, it should not be taken for granted even if it does not concern you. Take for example; some people may think that indigestion is just the common symptom for stomach ulcers or hyper-acidity. But there is also a possibility that it is leading to cancer. You will never know unless you do routine medical tests. That is why it is best not to self-diagnose but follow up with your doctor right away for proper diagnosis and to rule out any of the signs and symptoms.