What are the 15 common signs of cancer?
The term cancer is given to a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. These abnormal cells grow and multiply to the extent that the nutrition, oxygen, and even space of the healthy cells are compromised. Cancer can develop anywhere in the body. Thus, cancer is not one disease but has many types. The types differ with the tissues involved, mode of spread in the body (metastasis), and response to therapy.
Anyone can get cancer. However, different cancers may affect people differently depending on factors, such as the age of the person, lifestyle, underlying health conditions, and addictions (such as nicotine and alcohol). Apart from shortening the lifespan and causing physical symptoms, cancer also greatly affects a person emotionally and mentally.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Each year around 600,000 people die of cancer in the United States. The good news is many kinds of cancer can be prevented or diagnosed early. The early diagnosis and treatment of cancer give a better prognosis and quality of life. Symptoms of cancer may be subtle or vague, such as fatigue or headache, and often ignored. Unfortunately, most people seek medical attention only when the cancer is advanced and causes considerable difficulty in performing everyday tasks. This results in a late diagnosis. It can go to the extent when only supportive or palliative treatment is possible. Hence, one must not ignore the symptoms and seek timely medical attention as soon as they spot something amiss.
The purpose of this article is not to create unnecessary anxiety or false alarm. The aim is to make people aware that cancer can be treatable and even curable when diagnosed in a timely manner.
Some of the common signs of cancer include
- Unintended or unexplained weight loss: This is a characteristic symptom of cancer. The loss of weight occurs without any increase in physical activity or conscious efforts at reducing calorie intake. The weight loss is mainly because the rapidly dividing cancer cells take most of the nutrition while depriving the body of its nutrient needs.
- Fatigue: Cancer may make the person feel low in energy. They tend to get tired easily and report a decrease in stamina.
- Bleeding: Cancer cells are richly supplied with newly formed blood vessels (neovascularization). These new blood vessels are relatively fragile and bleed easily causing symptoms, such as blood in urine or stools, blood-stained sputum, and bleeding through the vagina. Cancer may also alter the blood clotting ability of the body, which leads to bleeding at various sites in the body, including the brain.
- A mass, sore, or swelling: Cancer cells may collect to form a mass or lump, such as a breast lump, lump in testes, or swollen lymph nodes. A sore that does not heal may also be cancerous.
- Persistent cough: Cough that refuses to get better may be a symptom of lung cancer or cancer that has spread to the airways.
- Abdominal pain: This may typically occur in cancer originating or spreading to structures in the abdomen, such as the liver, gut, or gallbladder.
- A change in bowel habits: Cancer affecting the gut may cause symptoms, such as diarrhea or constipation. Such symptoms are chronic and may not respond to medications. Sometimes, cancer is not physically present in the gut but releases various substances that can cause changes in bowel habits.
- Loss of appetite: People with cancer may have a decreased appetite and a sensation of fullness after eating even a little bit of food.
- Change in urine habits: A change in urination manifesting as frequent urination, poor urine stream or a feeling of incomplete voiding may be a sign of prostate cancer.
- Pallor: Excessive loss of blood from the body due to cancer may cause anemia. This may make the person look pale.
- Hoarseness: A change in voice may be seen in cancer affecting the voice box or the vocal cords.
- Change in the menstrual cycle: This may manifest as an irregular menstrual cycle, excessive bleeding during periods, or bleeding or spotting between two periods. It is typically seen in cancer of the uterus or the cervix.
- Skin moles or warts: Cancer may cause rashes on the skin. These warts or moles may bleed or spread quickly. A newly appeared mole or itching in the previously present mole warrants investigation.
- Aches and pains: Due to pressure, cancer cells affect the nerves, causing the release of various pain-causing chemicals in the body. This may cause symptoms, such as chronic headache, backache, or pains at other sites in the body.
- Fever: Cancer may be associated with the release of chemical substances (pyrogens) that raise the body’s temperature. Fever that refuses to resolve after 15 days of treatment or that is difficult to treat can be an early sign of cancer. Fever of unknown origin is often seen in blood cancers.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Cancer Society
Top What Are the 15 Common Signs of Cancer Related Articles
Breast Cancer Symptoms and SignsIn most cases, there are no early warning signs of breast cancer. Breast cancer may not produce any early symptoms, and in many cases, it is first discovered on screening mammography. The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast.
Cervical Cancer SlidesCervical cancer is commonly caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Learn about vaccines to prevent cervical cancer. Get information about cervical cancer symptoms, stages, life expectancy, and available treatment options.
Copiktra (duvelisib)Copiktra is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) or Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (SLL) who have received at least 2 prior therapies and they did not work or are no longer working. It is also used to treat Follicular Lymphoma (FL) who have received at least 2 prior therapies and they did not work or are no longer working. Serious side effects of Copiktra include elevated liver enzymes and low white blood cell count (neutropenia).
Darzalex Faspro (daratumumab and hyaluronidase-fihj)Darzalex Faspro (daratumumab and hyaluronidase-fihj) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with multiple myeloma, which may be used alone or in combination with other medications. Serious side effects of Darzalex Faspro serious allergic reactions include serious allergic reactions, injection site reactions, decreases in blood cell counts, and changes in blood tests.
Fusilev (levoleucovorin)Fusilev (levoleucovorin) is a derivative of folic acid indicated for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer and bone cancer (after methotrexate therapy). Common side effects of Fusilev include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, upset stomach, numbness or tingling, loss of appetite, unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth, weakness, tired feeling, hair loss, or mild skin rash.
Is Metaplasia the Same as Dysplasia?What is the difference between dysplasia and metaplasia? Learn the symptoms of both conditions to better understand and treat them.
Neulasta (pegfilgrastim)Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) is a colony-stimulating factor, a man-made form of a protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells, used to decrease the incidence of infection, by treating neutropenia, a lack of certain white blood cells caused by receiving cancer chemotherapy. Common side effects of Neulasta include bone pain, pain in your arms or legs, or injection site reactions (bruising, swelling, pain, redness, or a hard lump).
Nyvepria (pegfilgrastim-apgf)Nyvepria (pegfilgrastim-apgf) is a man-made form of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) used to stimulate the growth of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell important in the body’s fight against infection, in people with cancer. Serious side effects of Nyvepria include spleen rupture, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), serious allergic reactions, sickle cell crises, kidney injury, increased white blood cell count (leukocytosis), Capillary Leak Syndrome, and inflammation of the aorta (aortitis).
Ovarian Cancer SlidesOvarian cancer symptoms and signs include abdominal pain, bloating, frequent urination, and a feeling of fullness. Ovarian cancer treatment depends on the stage and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapy.
Pancreatic CancerLearn about pancreatic cancer signs, symptoms, causes, statistics, treatment and side effects (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, biological therapy) of malignant tumors of the pancreas.
Prostate Cancer SlidesProstate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Learn the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, along with causes and treatments. Know the stages, survival rates and lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer (Prostatic Cancer) Symptoms and Causes
Difficulty with urination – frequency, weak stream, trouble getting started, etc. – is usually the first sign of prostate cancer. But these and other early symptoms of prostatic cancer can also come from benign prostate conditions, so diagnostic testing is important, including PSA tests and digital rectal exam.
Yondelis (trabectedin)Yondelis (trabectedin) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with liposarcoma (cancer of the fat cells) or leiomyosarcoma (cancer of smooth muscle tissue) that cannot be treated with surgery or has spread to other areas of the body, and who have received treatment with certain other medicines. Serious side effects include severe infections due to decreased white blood cells, severe muscle problems (rhabdomyolysis), liver problems, heart muscle problems, leakage of Yondelis out of your vein during the infusion, allergic reactions, and capillary leak syndrome.
Zejula (niraparib)Zejula is a prescription medicine used for the maintenance treatment of adults with ovarian cancer and advanced ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or primary peritoneal cancer. The most common side effects of Zejula include heart not beating regularly, changes in liver function or other blood tests, nausea, pain in your joints, muscles, and back; constipation, headache, vomiting, dizziness, pain in the stomach area, change in the way food tastes, mouth sores, trouble sleeping, diarrhea, and others. anxiety
Ziextenzo (pegfilgrastim-bmez)Ziextenzo (pegfilgrastim-bmez) is a man-made form of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF). G-CSF is a substance produced by the body. It stimulates the growth of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell important in the body’s fight against infection. Serious side effects of Ziextenzo include spleen rupture, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), serious allergic reactions, sickle cell crises, kidney injury, increased white blood cell count (leukocytosis), Capillary Leak Syndrome, and inflammation of the aorta (aortitis).