Nearly 40% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute. Early detection is key to effective treatment. This is why it’s important to be aware of the symptoms. Here are seven facts about cancer everyone should know.
You Should Get a FIT Test if You Experience Changes in Bowel Habits
Significant changes in bowel habits could be a sign of cancer. You might want to consider taking an at-home FIT test to screen for colon cancer if you experience constipation, diarrhea, and/or bloody or tarry stools.
A Lip or Mouth Sore That Isn’t Healing Could Mean Cancer
We often don’t think of cancer when it comes to oral health, but if you experience a lip or mouth sore that isn’t healing, it could be a bad sign. Experiencing them more frequently can also be worrisome.
Although anyone can get oral cancer, the risk is even higher in those who smoke or drink heavily. Be sure to talk to your dentist, who may refer you to a periodontist or an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor.
Unexplained Weight Loss Can Be a Bad Sign
Many of us get excited to see the number on the scale drop and assume that shedding excess pounds is always healthy, but losing weight unintentionally can be a sign of cancer. Even more worrisome, unintentional weight loss can indicate that cancer has spread.
If you notice yourself losing weight due to a lack of appetite or without making any diet or lifestyle changes, be sure to talk to your doctor about it.
You Should Talk to a Gynecologist About Irregular Menstrual Periods
There are many potential causes of irregular menstrual cycles. Cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer can throw your cycle out of whack. If you experience periods that happen more or less frequently, a heavier flow, long periods or no periods at all, it’s important to talk to your gynecologist. These changes, along with other signs like pelvic or abdominal pain, bloating, bleeding during sex, and frequent urination, can be worrisome.
Frequent Fevers May Be a Sign of Blood Cancers
A fever can be a sign of the common cold or another infection. But if your fevers don’t resolve over time or with antibiotics and happen frequently, it could be cause for concern. Constant fevers could be a sign of blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma. Other signs to watch out for include unexplained bruising, chills, persistent fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and weakness.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your primary care physician, who may refer you to a hematologist to rule out cancer. These signs may also be indicative of autoimmune diseases like lupus, so you might also be referred to a rheumatologist.
Chronic Coughing Could Be a Sign of Cancer
Nowadays, when we experience coughing, many of us think of COVID-19 or RSV. But if you experience a dry cough that doesn’t resolve with antibiotics or in a few weeks, there’s a possibility that it could be a sign of lung cancer. Be sure to talk to your primary care physician if you experience this problem.
Chronic Headaches Could Be a Sign of Brain Cancer
Although there are a number of potential causes for headaches, one of them is a brain tumor. If you experience a headache that lasts for more than 14 days, is very severe, and/or doesn’t respond to any form of treatment, be sure to talk to your doctor.
If you experience these or any other symptoms, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor. While many symptoms can be attributed to other medical conditions, it’s best to rule out cancer and any other serious health conditions.