Cancer can be a truly scary thing to think about these days, killing millions of people per year. A diagnosis can send a person into a spiral thinking of what they may have done wrong in life, or simply wondering “why me?”. You may not know exactly what cancer is. You do however, know that it could possibly mean the end whether it be in a couple weeks, years, or months, and it’s not fun knowing that the odds are stacked against you. Sorry to start this off so grim, this may not be exactly what you were expecting when you initially clicked on the article. I simply don’t want to make light of such a serious situation, and at least we do know that in our modern world we stand a much better chance than we ever have before. More people are coming out the other end victorious than in the past, especially when it can be caught in the early stages of development. That is the purpose behind this article, not to cause any sort of panic, or to create any hypochondriacs, but to simply inform our readers about things to look for that could potentially change or even save your life. Especially for those of you (that are like myself) that tend to ignore what we consider to be little things, and avoid the doctor’s office like the monsters in our closets when we were children. Pay attention to changes in your body, no matter how small, and get routine check ups to ensure you truly are living your best life.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer affects many different parts of the body, with each type being unique and so can have some different symptoms. There are some overlaps and that is where we will try to focus our attention so as to help the best we can before, one day, maybe going into the different variations one by one in the future. Cancer is an abnormality in a cell causing it to divide and multiply at an exponential rate creating an imbalance, and then these cells can begin to spread and destroy other tissues essential to life. While it may start in one specific area, it has a tendency to spread, or metastasize, this is why it is ideal to find it and stop it as soon as you possibly can. Depending on where the cancer starts and how soon you catch it, it’s possible to get surgery and nip it in the bud somewhat figuratively speaking. Now, we feel that it is our duty to also inform you that the following symptoms are not exclusive to cancer, and that they definitely don’t automatically mean that you absolutely have it. They are simply issues that probably shouldn’t be ignored and if possible you should visit your doctor to have a professional evaluation. They could be a sign of infection or other serious illness where time is of the essence. No blog or article should ever replace your doctor, there are tests that need to be administered in order for you to receive the treatment you need, if any.
Okay let’s get started with 5 signs you may have cancer.
Sign 1: A Lump
With breast cancer being so prevalent, if you are a female you may have been told to be aware of a lump forming in your breast, and it doesn’t even have to be painful to require attention either. Finding a lump, or growth that you haven’t noticed in the past is a sure sign that you should visit the doctor. As stated before this isn’t simply a sign of cancer and you could have a benign cyst (a mass caused by air, fluid, or other material), however it would be a good idea to get it evaluated and treated by a medical professional. This being said having a lump shouldn’t immediately cause a scare either, wait and see what your results are, most of these lumps are benign in the end, we simply want you to get help in the unfortunate circumstance that it is something to worry about. We have said it before and we’ll probably say it again, the sooner you find it the better your chances of victory. Given our explanation as to what cancer is and how it works, you may already know what we are about to say. But, the abnormal growth of the cancerous cells could be the culprit behind this unknown mass forming in your body, which isn’t exclusive to the breast either. If you find a lump that wasn’t there before on any part of your body please seek medical assistance as soon as you can, if not you, do it for the ones that would be hurting from your absence if it happens to be a real danger to your health.
Sign 2: Change In Bowel/Bladder Movements
Certain cancers including hormonal tumors, and colon cancer can cause a person to experience difficulties or changes in bowel movements, including diarrhea and blood in your stool. Diarrhea is an issue that some may experience from time to time because of bad eating habits, so maybe you shouldn’t run to the doctor at the first sign of diarrhea. However, if your stool is runny 6 or more trips (per day) to the restroom for 2 days straight, a visit to the doctors office may be something to consider. If the diarrhea is accompanied by some blood in your stool (or it may just be blood without diarrhea) it would further encourage the idea of getting an evaluation (I hope that blood is a given). In other instances, you may notice that you have been going to the bathroom so regularly as of late that you have actually been losing weight without trying or changing any other aspects of your lifestyle, such as starting an exercise regimen or new nutrition plan. Other signs that, when accompanied with irregular bowel movements, should be taken seriously are dizziness and abdominal cramps. These symptoms should be taken especially seriously if they are strong enough to impede day to day life, such as preventing you from attending work or social gatherings. While some of us may have a higher pain tolerance than others, don’t lie to yourself and ignore something that is reducing your quality of life. Confide in a friend for an outside perspective if need be, your health is worth attention!
Sign 3: Unusual Bleeding
This was slightly covered in the paragraph before, with cancer possibly being a reason behind blood in the stool. Another form of cancer that causes unusual bleeding would be endometrial cancer. Women suffering from endometrial cancer can experience vaginal bleeding as one of their symptoms (yikes). Women do have a menstrual cycle which may throw you off course because this bleeding is a very normal part of life. However, a woman that is experiencing irregular bleeding not caused from some form of birth control should take the time to visit a doctor as this is a symptom that 9 out of 10 women with endometrial cancer have. Elderly women post menopause experiencing vaginal bleeding should also visit a doctor. Again there is a caveat such as hormone replacement therapy, in this case you would already be under doctor supervision and probably have been warned and told to relay the information to your specialist. Honestly if you bleed when you’re not supposed to, especially on a regular basis please take the time to visit a medical professional to get an assessment. It may or may not be cancer, but at the end of the day losing something that vital to your existence and well being is a cause of concern that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Sign 4: Skin Changes
Changes in the skin can be a warning sign for all types of cancer, not just cancers of the skin. For instance, sores that don’t really heal or that last a really long time are an example of sinister skin changes and the placement can indicate the type of cancer it may be. A sore in the mouth can point to oral cancer, especially if you chew tobacco, smoke, or drink alcohol. Even before oral cancer fully develops, you may see some white spots or patches in the mouth or on the tongue, known as Leukoplakia, caused by frequent irritation due to tobacco use. A sore on the penis or vagina could be prostate or uterine cancer, or even just an infection, but either way it should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible to prevent further complications. Jaundice, which involves the yellowing of skin and eyes, is also a serious skin change because it indicates that the liver cells have been damaged, either from cancer that has spread to the liver or some other complications that have compromised the liver’s ability to function properly. Pancreatic and colon cancers are the most common causes of jaundice. Hyperpigmentation, which is a patch of darker looking skin, as well as a new growth or a change in an existing mole can all be signs of Melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer. Other skin signs that something is wrong include reddening of the skin (Erythema), itchy skin (Pruritus) and excessive hair growth. Your body will usually let you know if something is wrong, you just need to listen.
Sign 5: Pain
Life has quite the range of factors that affect us in our day to day lives, we all experience and react to it differently. One thing that the majority of us do have in common though is an aversion to pain. It seems that pain follows us in one way or another and can be a sign of many illnesses or issues occuring in the body. It’s no wonder then, that a disease as destructive and serious as cancer has pain as a possible symptom. You may experience pain from a tumor, as we stated earlier not all tumors are painful however we can’t ignore the pain that some experience as the build up does often cause pressure. Tumors could also not be the pain you feel but still the cause… How? You may experience back pain caused by compression of the spine stemming from a tumor. People have actually ended up paralized from the growth of a tumor near the spine! Cancer that has made its way into the skeletal system can result in pain to the infected bone. We have told you that finding out about your cancer soon is a huge key to determining a favorable outcome; skeletal pain is something that tends to come after a wide spread has already happened. That being said please waste no time in getting help if you are experiencing pain that you feel is coming from your bones.
Cancer is an unfortunately real issue that millions of people around the world fall victim to. Some may be genetically predispositioned to develop cancer being that people in their family have had it in the past, and our heart goes out to those of you. For people in this situation we strongly urge you to take all these signs seriously as they could help you live a longer, healthier life, and when possible be proactive with at least a yearly visit to get checked. Like we said and have continued to state throughout the article the odds are better for you when found earlier rather than later! These days your chances of being a survivor are higher than ever, keep your head up! If you don’t have a family history, health is still important and some of these symptoms, whether or not they point to cancer, should be addressed immediately. We don’t mean to sound like a nagging parental figure but we honestly care about people’s health and want to see as many people as possible lead a long, healthy, and happy life! As always please feel free to reach out and ask any questions, comment on our content or even just say hello. We appreciate feedback and get back to you as soon as we can!