12 Cancer Symptoms to Know

Last Updated on November 12, 2023 by Otuebo Harrison

Your symptoms may vary depending on the sort of cancer you have, its stage, location, and extent of spread throughout your body.

Virtually every symptom or sign can be caused by cancer.

A symptom is something that is visible to others, like a fever, vomiting, or rapid breathing. Only the person who has the illness is able to perceive symptoms. Symptoms include things like soreness, fatigue, and weakness.

Cancer symptoms and indicators can both indicate that something is wrong with your body and that you may have cancer. The earlier a diagnosis is made and perhaps a better prognosis is the result of being aware of these markers.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cancer?

As cancer spreads, it may press against neighboring blood vessels, nerves, and organs, which may result in signs and symptoms. Some organs, like the brain, might experience symptoms from even the smallest tumors.

You might experience indications or symptoms in various places of your body if your cancer metastasizes, or spreads to other parts of your body.

The fact that cancer cells consume a large portion of your body’s energy source is another reason you can feel symptoms. They also affect how your immune system functions.

Some of the Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Although every case is different, some general signs and symptoms of cancer include:

Unusual Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding that’s not part of your usual period can have many causes, like fibroids or even some types of birth control. But tell your Doctor if you’re bleeding between periods, after sex, or have bloody discharge. She’ll want to rule out Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or vagina. Be sure to let her know if you are bleeding after menopause. That’s not normal and should be checked out right away.

Hard Time Swallowing

The common cold, acid reflux, or even some medicine can make it hard to swallow once in a while. If it doesn’t get better with time or with antacids, see your doctor. Trouble swallowing can also be a sign of cancer in your throat or the pipe between your mouth and stomach, called the esophagus. Your doctor will do an exam and some tests like a barium X-ray, in which you swallow a chalky fluid to show your throat more clearly on the image.

Mouth Problems

From bad breath to canker sores, most changes in your mouth aren’t serious. But if you have white or red patches or sores in your mouth that don’t heal after a couple of weeks — especially if you smoke — see your doctor. It may be a sign of oral cancer. Other things to look for: a lump in your cheek, trouble moving your jaw, or mouth pain.

Persistent Fever

A fever isn’t usually a bad thing. Sometimes it’s just a sign that your body is fighting an infection. It can also be a side effect of some medicines. But one that won’t go away and doesn’t have an obvious cause could be a sign of a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma.

Tiredness

A lot of things can make you very tired, and most of them aren’t serious. But fatigue is one early sign of some cancers, like leukemia. Some colon and stomach cancers can cause blood loss that you can’t see, which can make you feel very tired. If you’re wiped out all the time and rest doesn’t help, talk to your doctor.

Heartburn or Indigestion

Almost everyone has this burning feeling sometimes, often because of their diet or stress. If lifestyle changes don’t work and your indigestion doesn’t stop, your doctor may want to do some tests to look for a cause. It could be a sign of stomach cancer.

Blood When You Use the Bathroom

If you see blood in the toilet after you go, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Bloody stool is likely to come from swollen, inflamed veins called hemorrhoids, but there’s a chance it could be colon cancer. Blood in your pee could be a problem like a urinary tract infection, but it may be kidney or bladder cancer.

Bloating

You may have a full, bloated feeling because of your diet or even stress. But if it doesn’t get better or you also have fatigue, weight loss, or back pain, have it checked out. Constant bloating in women may be a sign of ovarian cancer. Your doctor can do a pelvic exam to look for the cause.

Problems When You Urinate

Many men have urinary issues as they get older, like the need to go more often, leaks, or a weak stream. Usually, these are signs of an enlarged prostate, but they could also mean prostate cancer. See your doctor for an exam and maybe a special blood test called a PSA test.

Testicle Changes

If you notice a lump or swelling in your testicles, you need to see your doctor right away. A painless lump is the most common sign of testicular cancer. Sometimes though, a man may just have a heavy feeling in his lower belly or scrotum or think his testicles feel larger. Your doctor will do a physical exam of the area and may use an ultrasound scan to see if there is a tumor or another problem.

Breast Changes

Most breast changes are not cancer. It’s still important, though, to tell your doctor about them and have her check them out. Let her know about any lumps, nipple changes or discharge, redness or thickening, or pain in your breasts. She’ll do an exam and may suggest a mammogram, MRI, or maybe a biopsy.

Changes in Your Skin

A new spot on your skin or one that changes size, shape, or color could be a sign of skin cancer. Another is a spot that doesn’t look the same as all the others on your body. If you have any unusual marks, have your doctor check your skin. She will do an exam and may remove a small piece (called a biopsy) to take a closer look for cancer cells.

Author

  • Otuebo Harrison

    Otuebo Harrison is the founder and Editor at VisitLegit, a webspace dedicated to self-care, mindfulness and well researched facts for a healthy living. He's a certified fitness expert at Eagle Gym and Wellness Hub.