We all fear cancer, it’s the one disease that can affect us all, no matter how healthy we are or how healthy we live. That’s why it’s important to closely monitor our body and question every change we notice, because we often tend to ignore the pains, aches and other smaller issues thinking they’re nothing serious. Sometimes the smallest changes could indicate something is wrong and we shouldn’t ignore them. According to the latest research, the most common and minor problems can often be the first symptoms of cancer. In a survey of 1,729 adults over the age of 50 in the U.K published in PLOS ONE, respondents evaluated how serious they perceived a list of 17 symptoms —10 of which were actually cancer symptoms. In the survey they also needed to respond if they had experienced any of these symptoms recently and what they did about it.
Even though it’s true that in the majority of cases “these warning signs will not indicate cancer,” “for a few, they might, and so going to the doctor sooner could save your life. If you have at least one of these cancer symptoms and it hasn’t gone away, go to your GP for advice” Whitaker says.
If you have persistent cough, especially accompanied by blood, then you should be worried. Bartholomew Bevers, MD of the MD Anderson Cancer Center said that “Most coughs are not cancer, but a persistent cough needs to be evaluated because it can be a symptom of lung cancer.” In this case you should get an X-ray or CT scan just to make sure that is nothing serious.
7.5% of the survey respondent reported an unexplained lump and 67% of those contacted their doctor, even though 77% didn’t think it was serious. If a new lump appears than it must be checked by a doctor. It could be benign cyst but it may also be cancer. If the lump appears in the breasts then it may be breast cancer.
- Variation in bladder activity
You shouldn’t panic immediately if you have blood in the urine as it can appear due to urinary tract infection. But it can also appear due to bladder or kidney cancer. So first do urine test and if it is negative, do other tests.
- Change in bowel activity
In the study, 18% of the examinees experienced some kind of change in their bowel, either size, amount or timing change. Even though usually it’s caused by certain foods and medications, it’s better if you check it out. Bartholomew Bevers claims that if you have problems with constipation and your stool is larger than normal, you could have colon cancer. She also said. ”This is a symptom where a person should go to the doctor and schedule a colonoscopy to see if there is a mass”.
- Long-lasting sore throat
If you suffer from sore throat for a longer period of time, you should visit a doctor as this pain can be caused by cancer.
- Unexplained pain
We experience various pains and most of them are not linked with cancer, but sometimes they can be. If you suffer from severe headaches often, then you need to visit a doctor as it may indicate brain cancer. Abdominal pain can be caused by ovarian cancer and pain in the chest can be caused by lung cancer.
- Difficulty swallowing
It may be caused by neck and esophageal cancer. People who have this symptom usually start eating liquid foods without thinking that there is a more serious problem.
- Unexplained weight loss
Sudden weight loss which occurs even if you are not on a diet can be linked with serious medical problems like cancer.
- Changes in skin moles
Bartholomew Bevers claims that not all moles can cause melanoma, but a new mark or the one which has changed its color or shape can be a sign of melanoma so visit your dermatologist. Out of the 7% of survey respondents who reported a change in a mole, freckle or wart’s appearance, only 47% contacted their doctors. To make matters even worse, more than 88% didn’t think the symptom was serious, though it could be indicative of skin cancer—many of which are treatable.
If bleeding occurs without any explainable reason, then visit a doctor. Bartholomew Bevers says that vaginal bleeding which appears before or after a normal period can be an early sign of cervical cancer and bleeding from the rectum can be caused by colon cancer.