What are the early signs and symptoms of cancer?

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Signs and symptoms are the most obvious ways by which your body lets you know that you have a disease or illness. Cancer symptoms depend on the location, size, and extent of their impact on the tissues or organs surrounding them. This article explains the important warning signs and symptoms that you must keep an eye out for a better prognosis of cancer.

General signs and symptoms

 Common signs and symptoms caused by cancer include:

  • Excessive tiredness or fatigue that does not improve with rest
  • More than 5% loss in body weight¬† or weight gain without apparent cause
  • Eating issues such as not being hungry, having trouble swallowing, experiencing stomach pain, or feeling nauseous
  • Lumps or swelling across the body
  • Breast enlargement or any bulge in other parts of the body
  • Persistent pain without any obvious reason
  • Skin alterations like a lump that bleeds or becomes scaly, a mole that develops or changes, a wound that doesn’t heal, or a yellowish tint to the skin or eyes (jaundice)

Breast cancer

The early signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Lump or thickening of the breast¬†
  • Unusual discharge from your nipples which can be a clear or a bloody discharge¬†
  • Inverted nipple (not present from birth)
  • Rash over your breast
  • Peeling, scaling, and flaking of the skin around the breast (these can also be a sign of skin infection)
  • Changes in the shape and size of the breasts
  • Dimpling or pitting of the skin, giving your skin an ‚Äėorange peel‚Äô appearance

Lung cancer

The early signs and symptoms include:
  • Chronic cough that doesn’t go away and associated with a large amount of mucus, and blood
  • Having trouble in breathing
  • Getting tired quickly
  • Sharp, dull, intermittent and constant chest pain¬†
  • A harsh and raspy voice is noticed when the tumour affects the voice box
  • A sudden weight loss of more than 5% of your body weight (losing weight without trying to)

Stomach cancer

The first signs and symptoms may include:

  • A feeling of ‚Äėfullness‚Äô in the upper abdomen
  • Indigestion, heartburn, or symptoms resembling peptic ulcer disease
  • Nausea and blood-tinged vomiting
  • Anaemia, characterised by pale skin, easy fatiguability, breathlessness, palpitations etc.

Oral cancer

It can be challenging to recognise the early indications of oral cancer, which makes them more likely to being missed –

  • Oral cancer can potentially manifest as white or red patches on the gums, or mouth lining
  • Lumps or swellings in the neck
  • Lumps or swellings in the cheek area
  • Having difficulty in moving your jaw or tongue
  • Constant foul breath

Liver cancer

In reality, the majority of liver cancer cases show no symptoms, they are discovered by chance during an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI that is being done to look for other intra-abdominal disorders. The following are the most typical early symptoms that individuals experience when they have liver cancer –
  • Right-side abdominal discomfort
  • Abdominal lump or mass
  • The skin and eyes turn yellow, and the urine turns darker in colour
  • Loss of weight
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained fever

Colorectal cancer

The early warning signs and symptoms include –¬†

  • Change in bowel movements
  • Change in the consistency of stools
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the stool, bleeding in the rectus (blood may appear as bright red blood or dark stools)
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain that lasts for a long time, such as cramps or bloating
  • Having the feeling that your bowels aren’t fully empty

Cervical cancer

The early warning signs are –
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding which includes¬†
    • bleeding between the menstrual periods
    • heavier or longer menstruation duration
    • bleeding after sex
    • Bleeding in spite of attaining menopause
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge which appears to be¬† watery, brown or mixed with blood¬†
  • Pain during sexual intercourse¬†
  • Frequent pelvic pain

Prostate cancer

Early-stage prostate cancer rarely causes symptoms but as the disease progresses, there are certain symptoms that appear. These include –

  • A weak or a delayed urine flow¬†
  • Frequent urge to urinate, especially in the night¬†
  • Pain and burning sensation while urinating¬†
  • Urine with blood¬†
  • Poor bladder and bowel control
  • Problems with ejaculation
  • Pain in the prostate region
  • Erectile dysfunction

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is hard to diagnose until the later stages. Some of the common warning signs and symptoms include –

  • Dark coloured urine
  • Itching sensation in the skin
  • Pale coloured stools¬†
  • Formation of blood clots in legs and lungs (difficulty breathing, leg pain etc.)
  • Sudden onset diabetes
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Blood cancer (leukaemia)

Blood cancer frequently indicates that your body’s blood cells are out of balance. The warning symptoms include –¬†

  • Low levels of RBCs causes symptoms of anaemia like easy fatiguability, weakness, pale skin, palpitations etc.
  • Low levels of platelets causes unexplained bruising and rash
  • Low level of WBCs which causes frequent infections and fever
  • Abnormal WBCs causes swellings of the lymph node¬†
  • Other general symptoms like easy fatigability, weight loss, fever etc.
Dr. Keertana
WRITTEN BY

Dr. Keertana

PharmD
A medical writer with a Doctorate in Pharmacy, she writes vividly about medicine and science. Read her contributions and writings about various healthcare topics.

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