It would be easier to detect cancer in our bodies if humans had an electronic sign that would light up when cancer may be growing. Instead, we have to be vigilant in finding it before it’s too late.
Before we talk about the signs of cancer, let us be clear on what a sign is. When you have a sign, it is something that someone else can detect with their senses too. For example, a doctor can detect the shape of an irregular mole that could be cancerous.
A symptom is something that might not be visible. For example, if you have a headache, another person can’t see your headache. You can describe the pain, location, and intensity of it, but you only feel the symptom. Headaches happen too often to always be a sign of a tumor, but some headaches may be worth a visit to the doctor for screening.
If you are concerned about any physiological changes in your body, seek the help of a medical professional for further evaluation, diagnosis, and early treatment if necessary.
Early Detection Can Save Lives
And that is excellent news!
An article published in Seminars in Oncology Nursing states the following:
“Cancer screening has contributed to decreasing the morbidity and mortality of cancer. Efforts to improve the selection of candidates for cancer screening, to understand the biological basis of carcinogenesis, and the development of new technologies for cancer screening will allow for improvements in cancer screening over time.”
While new technologies and research emerges each year, we still have a long fight. But the rate of survival continues to rise as we learn how to identify cancer in its earliest stages. The earlier you and your doctor identify cancer cells, the greater your odds of beating the disease.
It will feel awkward, or even scary, to admit that you found something that might be cancerous growing inside you. But facing your fears sooner than later means a faster path to treatment–or receiving a non-cancer diagnosis of a less threatening disease.
10 Early Signs That Cancer Might Be Growing In Your Body
If you see any of these warning signs, call your family physician right away. He or she can guide you on the next steps, including recommending an oncology specialist to help increase your chances of winning the battle ahead of you.
1. A lump beneath the skin that feels hard
Lumps in breast tissue are often first discovered by women (and yes, sometimes men) who perform self-exams and feel their breast tissue regularly. Touching your own body and getting to know its usual feeling is a good way to be able to distinguish when you have a change in the tissue.
Get comfortable with touching yourself regularly, especially on the breast, testicle, armpit, throat, abdomen, and skin. Self-examination of these soft tissues should help you discover changes before they potentially develop into larger tumors.
2. Itchy or irritable skin
Cancer is treated like bacteria in the body by your immune system. Your white blood cells are mobilized to try to destroy it. Because of this, blood flow is increased in the area of cancerous growth, and the area may feel warm, appear red, change color, feel tight, or itch.
3. Wounds that do not heal
If you have a cut or other injury to the surface of your skin and it is taking a long time to heal, or you notice little progress, it is a sign that cancer may be growing in your body. Your immune system has to prioritize defense zones, and cancer takes priority for all available bodily resources way before your minor wound.
Take excellent care to keep the wound clean, and consider getting blood screening done just to be cautious. If you don’t see improvement after five days, call your doctor for guidance.
4. Tongue or mouth bumps
Oral cancers account for approximately three percent, or 53,000 Americans, annually. According to the National Institutes of Health, lesions can occur on the tongue, gums, tissue inside the cheeks, under the tongue, and in the back of the mouth near the throat.
So bumps inside the mouth, gums, tongue, or throat, especially whitish-colored bumps, should be a cause for concern. They might turn out to be another issue, but you should ask to seek an opinion from your dentist. He or she can rule out minor oral infections. The dentist can help you to determine the next steps to take from there.
5. Trouble swallowing, indigestion, or loss of appetite
Anything that significantly disrupts your digestive process is cause for concern because it hurts your body’s ability to get nutrition from the food that you eat. As a result, natural bodily functions (such as healing) suffer.
Many diseases can cause these symptoms. These symptoms coincide with diabetes or adrenal disease, for example. However, the American Cancer Society notes these among the early warning signs of pancreatic cancer.
Anything that seems different from your usual stool might be a cause for concern, especially if this symptom lasts for more than two days. For example, finding blood in the stool may signify colon cancer, but a less serious factor may also cause it. The next step should be seeking the help of a medical professional immediately for evaluation.
Other changes you might look for, according to the American Cancer Society, would include pain during elimination, very dark or light-colored stools, constipation or diarrhea, or mucus. Seek the examination and diagnosis of a trusted medical professional if you are concerned about any of these signs. You doctor will most likely send you for a colonoscopy or other screening to confirm what’s happening with your body.
7. Changes in urination
Similarly to normal bowel functioning, your bladder function should be fairly regular. But what are the changes you should note? Watch for these things:
- Changes in the strength of your urine flow
- Urine color
- A strong, sour smell
- The presence of foam
- Blood in the urine
If you see any of these signs, call your family physician. After an exam, they will either offer a diagnosis of a minor infection or refer you for additional testing for bladder or pancreatic cancer.
Unexplained bleeding that cannot be accounted for by a menstrual cycle should be checked quickly. Your doctor will want to examine any bleeding from the uterus, nipple, bowels, or in any bodily excretions.
9. Voice changes
University of Michigan Medical Center advises that a voice that grows hoarse or changes in the voice–to the pitch or tone–are red flags of throat cancer.
They also explain that you might experience other signs along with the vocal changes, such as ear pain, coughing, or trouble swallowing. Each of these alone can indicate a problem, but time is of the essence when you combine them. Seek advice from your physician immediately.
Cancer may be growing inside your body in your lung, esophagus, throat, or even stomach if you are experiencing persistent coughing and not a result of another illness. A chronic cough might mean you have something as simple as an undiagnosed respiratory infection. But it also reveals lung and throat cancer, in some cases. Your doctor will order x-rays and tests to make an accurate diagnosis and help you decide on the next steps to take.
As stated earlier, early detection of cancerous cells saves lives. This is not just a catchy advertising slogan or a hyperbolic statement, it is a fact that you should take to heart. Don’t avoid the doctor or delay receiving an accurate diagnosis. Center yourself. Take a deep breath when you need it, and call your doctor for that dreaded appointment. You will find peace of mind once you know what you are dealing with.