Understanding Cancer Symptoms Allows for Early Detection

Cancer is the most feared word in the language when it comes to health risks. And the fear that it puts in people is well deserved. It’s estimated that somewhere in the vicinity of 15 million people are battling cancer in America at any time, and the fact that it kills so many people means that every one of those people and the family members that love them are as worried as can be. Cancer research continues with all of the energy and dedication behind it as ever, but there is still no cure for cancer. It can be put into remission however, but early detection is key. Being able to identify cancer symptoms and cancer signs is beneficial, as they mean you see your doctor that much sooner.

The information that will follow here has been put together for just that purpose; seeing cancer symptoms or other clues that you may have the early stages of the disease. We’ll also spend a little bit of time at the end sharing a helpful cancer prevention resource. Anyone who’s been asking ‘what are cancer symptoms’ has landed in the right place. Let’s begin.

Cancer Symptoms

There are over 200 different types of cancer classified in the DSM-IV that physicians use a validated reference point for human health conditions. All of the different types of cancers will have different cancer symptoms associated with them, and the symptoms will vary in intensity based on the size of the cancer and whether or not its affecting organs and tissues.

Cancer symptoms stemming from brain tumors will be almost immediately felt by the person, while some cancers like pancreatic cancer often don’t result in cancer symptoms or cancer signs until they have grown so large that they put pressure on organs, blood vessels, and nerves.

Here are common cancer symptoms that may indicate cancer cells being present in an area of the body:

  • Yellowed eyes and skin (jaundice) caused by cancerous tumors around bile ducts
  • Other skin changes like darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation), reddened skin (erythema), itching (pruritus)
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Extreme fatigue or weight loss resulting from cancer cells using much of the body’s energy supply or reorienting the immune system (pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, or lung cancer)
  • Extreme fatigue resulting from blood loss (colon or stomach cancers)
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge (colon, rectal, bladder, kidney, or breast cancer)
  • Changes in bowel habits or bladder function, including long-term constipation, constant diarrhea, or significant changes in stool sizes (bladder, rectal, or prostate cancer)
  • Blood clots in the veins of the legs (pancreatic cancer)
  • Raised blood calcium levels resulting in weakness or dizziness
  • Fever (blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma)
  • Extreme pain, either localized (example – testicular cancer) or general (bone cancer)
  • Back pain (colon, rectum, or ovarian cancer)
  • Sores that do not heal (skin or oral cancer)
  • White patches inside mouth or white spots on tongue (leukoplakia, precursor to mouth cancer)
  • Red and thickened skin or lump in the breast (breast cancer)
  • Indigestion or trouble swallowing (esophageal, stomach, or throat cancer)
  • Recent and significant changes to mole or any other type of skin feature (melanoma, skin cancer)
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness (lung or larynx cancer)

There are other cancer symptoms as well, but these are the most pronounced ones for types of cancers that are seen most frequently.

Cancer Signs

There is quite an array of potential symptoms of cancer, as you are probably beginning to understand from reading all of this. These cancer signs may also be indications of the disease, but they are cancer symptoms that are not as immediately associable with cancer as the ones above. Nonetheless, if you have any of these cancer symptoms or cancer signs it is best to see a physician and tell him or her about your symptoms.

Bloating or having a feeling of being full that won’t go away can be a sign of ovarian cancer. Overwhelming nausea and vomiting can be a symptom of brain cancer, and night sweats have been linked to the early stages of several different cancers.

Risk Associated with Absence of Cancer Symptoms

There are some cancers that tend not to have any identifiable cancer signs, and accordingly they’re especially dangerous. Pancreatic cancer is one that typically doesn’t have any symptoms of cancer until it’s progressed to an advanced stage. Often this first of any cancer symptoms seen when this progression has occurred is noticeable swelling in the perineum area.

Lung cancer is another one, outside of a chronic cough which is an early onset symptom but one that people often dismiss as a less-serious illness. However, certain types of lung cancer will cause increased blood calcium levels but without going for lab work the individual will likely remain unaware.

Kidney cancer is another. Once you have an advanced stage of kidney cancer you may see cancer symptoms like pain on one side of the body or another, blood in the urine, or fatigue. Keep in mind though that these symptoms may also be the result of other benign causes and not necessarily attributable to cancer.

Helpful Resources

It goes without saying that being knowledgeable regarding cancer symptoms is very beneficial, especially when you’re aware of just how many people will become afflicted with the disease at some point in their life. The American Cancer Society has a very good online cancer screening guidelines resource that can be used to expand on the information shared here, as well as point you in the right direction and potentially save valuable time if your suspicions prove correct after seeing cancer symptoms.