The American Cancer Society suggests the following seven warning signs of cancer that individuals should be aware of. It’s important to note that these signs do not guarantee that a person has cancer, but they can be potential indicators that should prompt further evaluation by a healthcare professional:
- Unexplained Weight Loss: If you are losing weight without any changes in your diet or physical activity, especially if you are losing a significant amount of weight rapidly, it can be a sign of various types of cancer.
- Fatigue: Persistent and unexplained fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest can be an early sign of cancer. While fatigue is a common symptom of many illnesses, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider if it persists.
- Pain: Ongoing or severe pain that is not associated with a known injury or condition should be evaluated. Pain can be a symptom of various cancers, such as bone, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer.
- Skin Changes: Changes in the color, size, shape, or texture of a mole or the appearance of new skin abnormalities can be signs of skin cancer. Skin changes should be examined by a dermatologist.
- Changes in Bowel or Bladder Habits: Persistent changes in bowel habits (e.g., diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool) or urinary habits (e.g., blood in the urine, frequent urination) should be discussed with a healthcare provider, as they could be indicative of colorectal, bladder, or prostate cancer, among others.
- Persistent Cough or Hoarseness: A persistent cough or hoarseness that lasts for several weeks, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like blood in the sputum, can be a sign of lung cancer or other respiratory conditions.
- Lumps or Thickening: Any new, unusual lumps, bumps, or thickening of the skin or underlying tissues should be examined by a healthcare professional. These can be indicative of various types of cancer, including breast cancer and testicular cancer.
It’s important to emphasize that these warning signs can be caused by conditions other than cancer, and many people may experience these symptoms at some point in their lives without having cancer. However, if you notice any persistent or concerning symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation and appropriate testing. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the outcome for many types of cancer.