Today, people are living longer when diagnosed with cancer. Regular check-ups detect diseases early when they are easier to treat.
Noticing any of the following symptoms does not mean you have cancer. But to be safe, talk to your doctor about these five signs and symptoms.
Unexplained weight loss
If you lose weight for no reason, see your doctor. Losing 10 pounds or more is nothing to worry about. However, in rare cases, it can be the first sign of cancer.
It’s not as tired as you might feel after a long day of work or play. Extreme fatigue that does not go away with rest can be an early sign of cancer.
Because cancer uses your body’s nutrients to grow and move forward, those nutrients are no longer replenishing your body. This “nutrient theft” can make you very tired.
There are many causes of fatigue, many of which are unrelated to cancer. If your symptoms are severe enough to affect your quality of life, see your doctor.
A fever can be a common symptom of the flu and usually goes away on its own.
Certain characteristics of recurrent fevers may predict a possible malignancy. You should pay special attention to:
Fever usually occurs at night.
You have no other symptoms of infection.
You experience night sweats.
Pain is another symptom that can be caused by a number of health problems, most of which are not cancer. However, persistent pain may indicate an underlying disease.
Cancer can cause pain in a variety of ways, including:
A mass or tumor that is pressing on other parts of your body
Chemicals released by cancer
Metastasis, or the spread of cancer from the site of origin
If your pain doesn’t go away and you don’t know where it’s coming from, your doctor can help you with next steps.
Our skin is our body’s largest organ and can act as a window to our health. Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or fingertips) is one symptom of a possible infection or cancer. If you develop symptoms of jaundice, see your doctor.
Also, changing moles are a cause for concern. See a doctor if a mole appears:
It is not symmetrical, or the edges are jagged
With irregular borders
The color changes or darkens
Large or growing
These aren’t the only ways your body can fight early cancer. Check out the symptoms Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Anne Marie Lennon, MD, Ph.D., wants you to know about.