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Cancer Symptoms

Cancer is a broad term and yes…. it is very scary! Probably everyone knows someone who got this deadly disease and died of cancer.

The term ‘cancer’ can be used for the spectrum of diseases in which cells grow and divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Normally, body cells grow and divide and know to stop growing and they also die after some time. Unlike this natural phenomenon, cancer cells keep growing and divide out of control and don’t die when they’re supposed to.

Cancer is related to tumor. A tumor can be defined as a lump of cancer cells that can destroy the normal cells around the tumor and damage the body’s healthy tissues.

There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start. For example, cancer that begins in the brain is called brain cancer; cancer that begins in colon is called colon cancer, etc.

If you want specific symptoms of cancer then you have to consider the type of cancer or the part of body the cancer is related to. Here in this article we give the generalized or non-specific symptoms of cancer. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Thickening or lump in the site of cancer: The lump is also called tumor. This is very evident symptom of cancer and can be considered as the specific symptom of cancer associated.
  • Persistent Fatigue: A person having any cancer will experience persistent fatigue and it is one of the most commonly experienced cancer symptoms. It is occurs in all stages of the cancer and in both conditions of cancer: malignant and benign.
  • Unexplained or Unintentional Weight Loss: Weight loss can be a welcome surprise but beware! It may also indicate cancer! Losing 10 pounds or more without intention warrants of cancer as this type of weight loss can occur with or without loss of appetite.
  • Anaemia: Anaemia and associated conditions of anaemia can be signs of many types of cancer, especially types affecting the bowels. There may be unusual bleeding in some other types of cancers that can make the person anaemic.
  • Pain: It may not be an early symptom of all types of cancer, except for bone cancer. But nevertheless, the cancer patient feels pain. It generally occurs when cancer spreads and begins to affect other organs and nerves. Depending on the organ associated it can be back pain, shoulder pain, stomach pain, chest pain, leg pain, headaches etc.
  • Fever: A fever is a very non-specific symptom for all types of cancer. Here fever is persistent or one that comes and goes frequently. Fevers are commonly associated with types of cancer that affects the blood. Fever can be also an outcome when the cancer is spread.
  • Bowel Changes: Unexplained bowel changes may be associated with colon cancer. There can be constipation, diarrhoea, blood in the stools, gas, thinner stools, or just a general overall change in bowel habits.
  • Chronic Cough: Cough associated with cancer is persistent, new cough. This cough won’t go away and becomes worse day-by-day. Blood and/or mucus may accompany the cough and can be symptom of lung cancer

Cancer Symptoms in Men:

  • New mass in the breast area
  • Nipple discharge and retraction
  • Puckering or redness of the nipple
  • Change in the size of the testicles
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes in the armpit or neck
  • Abdominal pain and depression
  • Change in stool color
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Changes in skin pigmentation and moles
  • Bleeding from an unexpected location
  • White spots or patches in the mouth or tongue
  • Urgency to urinate
  • Feeling of not emptying the bowels completely
  • Constipation

Cancer Symptoms in Women:

  • Unusually painful and heavy periods
  • Swelling in facial features
  • Unexplained changes in the fingernails.
  • Back pain in the lower right side
  • Nipple changes
  • Red swollen breasts
  • Stomach ache
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in appetite

According to a report published in the online journal Cancer, by researchers of the National Cancer Institute, on December 7 2009, there has been a decline in the diagnosis of new cases and deaths associated with this dreadful disease.

Statistics of Top 20 Cancer Types in the United States in 2009:

S.No. Cancer Type Percent of New Cases in Men Percent of Deaths in Men Percent of New Cases in Women Percent of Deaths in Women
1.
Bladder
+0.2
+0.4
2.
Brain
-0.5
-1.0
-1.1
3.
Breast
-2.0
-1.9
4.
Cervix
-3.5
5.
Colon/Rectum
-3.0
-3.9
-2.2
-3.4
6.
Esophagus
+0.7
+0.4
7.
Kidney
+1.8
-1.5
+2.4
-0.6
8.
Leukemia
+0.1
-0.8
+0.3
-1.6
9.
Liver
+3.6
+2.4
+1.8
10.
Lung
-1.8
-2.0
+0.4
11.
Melanoma
+3.1
+2.0
+3.0
12.
Myeloma
+0.7
-1.1
-2.4
13.
Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
-3.0
+1.1
-3.7
14.
Oral
-1.2
-2.2
-0.9
15.
Ovary
-2.1
-1.4
16.
Pancreas
+1.7
+0.1
17.
Prostate
-2.4
-4.1
18.
Stomach
-2.0
-3.7
-2.7
19.
Thyroid
+6.3
20.
Uterus
-0.5

Note:

  • The blank space represents cancers not in the top 20 list for a particular gender or category.
  • The hyphen indicates no statistically significant rise nor fall in the rates during the time period of the studies.

Cancer Symptoms in Children:

  • Vomiting persisting for a week or more
  • Headache
  • Sudden changes in personality
  • Seizures
  • Trouble walking
  • Growing pain at night
  • Chronic back pain
  • Persistant cough
  • Enlarging mass in the arms, legs, neck and abdomen
  • Dullness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding
  • Lingering fever
  • Bruising
  • A skin condition called petechiae
  • Rapid changes in vision
  • Enlarged liver or spleen

When you observe any of these above mentioned signs of this dreadful disease, do not hesitate to consult the doctor immediately. Unfortunately, in case of cancer, the symptoms mostly remain latent in the initial stages and become apparent only when it is too late, in plain words. Delay in diagnosis of cancer means that the disease can only be treated, but cannot be cured.

1 response to Cancer Symptoms

  1. Hello,

    Thanks for the interesting article on the symptoms of cancer.

    I have a friend that’s fighting stage 4 colon cancer so I know what a dreadful disease it is.

    I had my first colonoscopy at age 50. A polyp was found and removed. I’m now 58 and I had my second colonoscopy a few weeks ago. Nothing was found this time.

    I just want to remind and encourage everyone to get screened for colon cancer. The procedure itself (colonoscopy) is not painful, with the possible exception of the I.V. The preparation the day before is a little inconvenient. Plan to be close to a bathroom.

    The ‘official’ guideline is to have a colonoscopy if you are older than 50 and every 10 years thereafter. That is, if you’re at average risk. Check with your physician. Schedule an appointment today!

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