Fatigue – Though most of the less serious conditions can make you tired, it is one of the signs of cancer as well. Certain gynaecological cancers, stomach and colon cancer can cause blood loss that can make you very tired.
Indigestion or Heartburn: Sometimes you have this feeling due to diet and stress and other health issues, but it could be a sign of ovarian or stomach cancer. If your problem doesn’t subside after making lifestyle changes and treatment, then talk to your oncologist.
Fever: It is an indication of your body fighting an infection, but may become a cause for concern (a sign of cancer) if it comes without having any obvious cause or if it persists for long or if it doesn’t go away easily.
Weight Loss: Your eating and exercising habits can make you lose weight or slim down. You can also lose weight if you have thyroid or stress issues. In addition, it is normal to lose weight due to other health issues as well. But it is not normal if you lose lots of weight suddenly – which is around 5 to 6 kg within one or two months – as it is one of the early signs of cancer.
Mouth Problems: Mouth ulcers, canker sores, bad breath and other dental issues are not very serious, but those who chew tobacco and smoke, if notice red or white patches in their mouth, should see their doctor if they do not heal after a couple of weeks. It could be a potent sign of oral cancer. The other symptoms of oral cancer include trouble swallowing, jaw pain, mouth pain, a lump in the cheek, tongue or neck.
Unusual Bleeding: Any bleeding which is not due to regular periods can be due to several causes – which are not very serious, but when the bleeding is abnormal, heavy, in between periods, or after sex, then it could be due to serious issues with vagina, cervix, ovaries or uterus. Therefore, when you have abnormal bleeding, then see your gynaecologist to rule out vaginal, cervical and uterine cancers. In addition, if you have bleeding after menopause, then immediately seek medical help as it could be a sign of ovarian cancer.
Trouble Swallowing: Strep throat, certain medicines, common cold and acid reflux can make it hard to swallow food. Treatment helps get rid of from such troubles, but when treatment won’t work, then it could be a sign of serious health issues like cancer of the mouth, throat or oesophagus.
Blood in Urine or Stool: Blood in the urine can be due to urinary tract infection or problem with your kidneys, but it could also be due to bladder or kidney cancer. Similarly, blood in stool is more likely to come from haemorrhoids, but it could also be due to colon cancer.
Swollen Lymph Nodes: These are small, bean-shaped glands in your armpits, neck and other areas of your body. These glands get swollen while fighting an infection. Swollen lymph glands are indicative of cancer as well. Talk to your doctor to pinpoint the cause.
Urinary Problems: Men, as well as women, suffer from urinary issues as they get older – urinary incontinence, weak stream, leaks are common in the elderly. In men, such symptoms are the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, but could also be due to prostate cancer.
Nagging Cough: Cough is usually caused by cold, allergies, asthma, or due to respiratory tract infection. It can also be due to postnasal drip and acid reflux. If you do not smoke then there is no problem, but if you are a smoker and have a cough which is persistent or you cough up phlegm with streaks of blood, then you should see your doctor to rule out lung cancer.
Breast Changes: The changes in the breast such as lump in the breast; change in size shape and appearance of breast; any discharge other than milk; Redness, thickening of breast skin, nipple or scaliness of breast skin; nipple retraction or pain; inverted nipple; breast pain and skin irritation are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. However, Presence of lumps may or may not cause symptoms – and therefore, it is important to get them checked and evaluated by an oncologist. Even after getting a normal mammogram, visit an oncologist and promptly get checked by the doctor. You have to be aware of the changes in your breast including the signs and symptoms as every breast cancer cannot be detected by Mammograms.
Bloating: It is a sign of indigestion, tummy upset and other stomach issues. Bloating can also be due to changes in your eating habits, diet and stress. But the cause for concern is when it is not getting better even after addressing the cause and also when it is associated with back pain, stomach pain, fatigue and weight loss. If you are a woman and have been experiencing persistent bloating, then have it checked out by an oncologist – who will do a pelvic exam to look for the cause. Constant bloating in women is a sign of ovarian cancer.