Anu constantly complained of abdominal pain on her chumming days. But lately she did so quite frequently. Her husband dismissed them all thinking that it’s the usual thing with women. She was also losing weight. But after a month or so the pain started getting worse. Two months after that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. But thankfully, it hadn’t progressed much.
With timely diagnosis and treatment today her condition has improved significantly and her condition is manageable.
Just like Anu and her family we also often tend to ignore what our bodies are trying to convey. But sometimes seemingly harmless symptoms tend to be the warning signs of much serious condition. Cancer is one such disease which tend to disguise itself as a harmless and benign everyday ailments such as cough, abdominal pain, fever etcetera.
According to the data from GLOBOCAN 2012, the most common types of cancer prevalent in India are breast, cervical and oral. The good news is that with the advancement of medical science and clinical experience most forms of the disease are treatable. Experts claim that if detected in the initial phases, the disease can be managed much effectively. This is possible if we pay close attention to our bodies.
The seemingly benign aches, pain, discomfort could be potential symptoms of cancer if they persist for a long duration. However that doesn’t mean if you have any of these symptoms you have cancer. It simply means if you have any of these symptoms something might be wrong with your body and you need to get yourself checked by a medical professional.
Let’s have a close look at fifteen such symptoms which could be warning signs of cancer.
- Lumps and bumps.
Lumps and bumps are results of swollen lymph nodes due to cold or mild infection and in most cases they are harmless. But if you notice any lump on your breasts or near armpits that doesn’t go away even after a month, it’s time to get it checked.
- Change in nipples.
According to American Cancer Society nipple retraction ( turning inwards), nipple discharge, redness and scaling of skin in breasts and nipples could be possible symptoms of breast cancer.
- Bleeding between cycles.
Bleeding between cycles could be because of a variety of reasons such as hormonal imbalance, stress, change in medication etc but in some cases it could be a symptom of cervical, uterine, ovarian or vaginal cancer.
- Unusual discharge.
Any unusual vaginal discharge or bloody discharge could be warning signs of cervical or endometrial cancer if presents itself for a long time.
- Unexplained weight loss.
The American Cancer Society reports that unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more could be a first sign of cancer. This warning sign is common in those with pancreatic, stomach, lung, or esophageal cancers.
- Mild persistent fever.
The seemingly harmless mild fever is something we all encounter once in a while. It is usually your body fighting an infection. But again if it persists for a long time or repeats itself regularly it could be a symptom of a more serious concern such as leukaemia or lymphoma.
- Persistent cough.
Sometimes cold and windy weather leave you with a cough that refuses to go away. But if you notice irregularities and prolonged cough that doesn’t go away it could be warning signs of lung cancer, reports Sunny Wang, MD.
- Persistent sore throat.
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms such as a sore throat, hoarseness, and persistent cough with no improvement and no other explanation, they may suspect throat cancer. To check for throat cancer, your doctor will perform a direct or an indirect laryngoscopy or will refer you to a specialist for the procedure. ( As reported in healthline).
- Difficulty in swallowing.
Usually throat ailments are attributed to cold and flu and are not considered life threatening. But like the previous symptoms, if difficulty in swallowing is prolonged and without any other indication of common cold it could be early signs of throat cancer.
- Irregular bowel movement.
Irregular bowel movement can be the result of simple conditions such as food poisoning or medication. But if there is any unexplained obstruction of movement or other irregularities that are persistent and painful, it could indicate a more serious illness such as colon cancer.
- Fatigue and weakness.
Cancer-related fatigue is worse than everyday fatigue. It lasts longer and sleep doesn’t make it better: It’s unpredictable. People describe it as overwhelming, affecting every part of their lives. Fatigue and weakness accompanied with anemia can be an indication of leukaemia, colon cancer or stomach cancer.
- Pelvic or abdominal pain.
Most women experience some kind of abdominal pain during their menstrual periods that doesn’t require medical attention. But if the pain doesn’t subside in time and is accompanied by bleeding or bloody discharge, it could be an implication of ovarian cancer.
- Shortness of breath or wheezing.
There is a wide range of diseases that attributes to Shortness of breath and wheezing from anxiety to asthma. But in rare cases it could be a symptom of lung cancer. The best way to address this is to consult with your physician if you have any of these symptoms.
Bloating is very commonly experienced in both men and women and most of the time is not a matter of concern. But if you are a woman and you feel bloated almost every day for more than one month, seek medical help immediately. Persistent bloating could be an indicator of ovarian cancer.
- Skin changes and discoloration.
Any unusual change in the skin coloration, discoloration of a mole, unusual skin hardening calls for expert advice. While mostly harmless, sometimes they may indicate early stages of skin cancer.
Remember, presence of these symptoms does not mean you have cancer. However, if one or any of these refuse to subside even after a month or you see that they are getting worse day after day then it’s time to get yourself checked.
Alone with it we should also always try to follow a healthy lifestyle. Below are some of healthy habits that can keep the disease at bay to a great extent.
- Eating healthy and balanced diet.
- Drinking two to three litres of water daily.
- Avoid consumption of alcohol and tobacco in any form.
- Go for regular health check ups.
- Exercise regularly.
- Pay close attention to your body and if you notice anything unusual, contact your GP.
If only we pay a little more attention to our bodies and seek medical help in time, the burden of the disease can be avoided to a large extent. Because it’s better to be safe than sorry !
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