According to the National Cancer Institute, 38.1% of people in the United States will have some form of cancer during their lifetimes. That’s over a third of the country! And yet, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of talk about it. This seems strange because do you know the best way to survive cancer? Early detection! 64% of cancer survivors were diagnosed 5 or more years previously. So, it’s important to ask yourself “do I have cancer?” regularly, especially if you live in an area with high cancer rates or have habits that increase the risk of getting cancer. And you should be aware of the early warning signs that indicate you might have cancer.
The tricky part of cancer diagnosis is that the symptoms are common with other diseases or maladies. For instance, blood in your urine can be cancer or a kidney stone/infection. That’s why if any of these signs appear, you should see a medical professional and get tested.
Cancer Warning Signs In Men & Women
We’ll start with symptoms common to both genders and then break it down by men and women, as some cancers are unique to a specific gender.
Loss of Appetite
Many things from colds and flu’s to just plain being stressed can lead to a lack in desire to eat. But if you don’t eat because you feel “full” all the time, that could be because there’s a mass pressing on your stomach. When that’s the case, you could have pancreatic, colon and ovarian cancers. You could also have a mass in your stomach, meaning you have stomach cancer.
Blood in Stool
There’s not a lot that’s more disconcerting than looking into the toilet bowl and seeing blood. And probably the last thing you want to do is look more closely at it. But the color of the blood can potentially help you know what might be wrong with you. For instance, bright red means it hasn’t traveled far, so you’re most likely dealing with a rectum disease. Darker blood means it’s coming from further up your digestive tract. Examples of the latter are ulcers and cancers.
Blood in Urine
Blood in your urine is usually indicative of a kidney problem or maybe something’s wrong in your bladder. While it’s possible it’s cancer, it could also just be a urinary tract infection or even a kidney stone. The former brings with it discomfort, while the latter brings pain. The stone scraps the inside of the urethra as it moves down, sometimes causing abrasions as well as pain. That’s why there’s blood.
During cold and flu season, we will all most likely fall victim to a persistent cough. It’s to be expected. But if that cough doesn’t go away, you could be looking at something serious, especially if you’re a smoker. A cough by itself isn’t overly concerning. It’s that it doesn’t go away that is troubling. It’s a red flag for lung cancer, along with chest pain, weight loss, hoarseness, exhaustion and being unable to catch your breath.
We’re not talking about your average “feeling tired” after exerting yourself. Or even just feeling tired earlier as you get older. This is exhaustion that does not go away. You sleep for ten hours, but still feel tired. Taking it easy doesn’t seem to make the fatigue go away. This is being bone tired for no reason whatsoever.
Never ending Fever
Any sort of infection is likely to spike a fever. The difference from other diseases causing a rise in temperature and cancer is how the fever works in your body. Cancer fevers are more consistent in pattern. They can rise and fall within a day, but usually at about the same times per day. Fevers are unique to four types of cancers: Lymphoma, Leukemia, Kidney and Liver cancers. If your temp is over 100.5 degrees F for a period of a few days, see a doctor. Don’t try to ride it out.
The thing to know about cancer lumps is that they don’t hurt. This is why a big deal is made of checking for lumps. They won’t be that easy to detect on their own unless you ARE looking for them. But if you do find such a lump, don’t panic. It isn’t a given that it’s cancer. But do get it checked out, especially if it grows.
Skin cancer manifests itself visibly. So, if you have a skin growth that doesn’t go away or even grows, see a dermatologist. Telltale signs to watch out for are: it gets bigger, changes color, has irregular shape, bigger than a pencil eraser, scabs over yet doesn’t heal.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Check under your armpits. You should be able to push in without feeling any sort of obstruction. When the lymph nodes are swollen, they harden and you can feel them with your finger tips. Again, this isn’t just a sign of cancer. Strep throat can also cause the lymph nodes to swell.
Unexplained Weight Loss
We don’t tend to think of losing weight as a bad thing, but when it happens on its own for no visible reason, it’s a warning sign. We don’t know why weight loss is tied to cancer sometimes, but 2 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer also experience weight loss.
We’re now in the gender specific area of symptoms. We’ll start with women:
Bleeding Between Periods
Most women keep track of their time of the month. Vaginal bleeding outside of those days is cause for concern. Cervical or Endometrial cancer can be the cause of such bleeding. Post menopausal bleeding is especially concerning and could be caused by those same two cancers.
And finally, the warning signs that are specifically male:
Lump in Testicle
Again, this won’t be a painful lump. It could be testicular cancer. But it could also be a hernia, fluid build up or even just as result of a prior injury.
An Orgasm isn’t supposed to hurt. While it’s not a guarantee of prostate cancer, it could be. It could also be an infection.
That’s obviously a lot to digest and keep track of. But better to know something and not need it than need it and not know it. When these symptoms arise, always seek out medical professionals’ help and remember to get tested!