In general the best advice to get the earliest possible diagnosis and proper treatment of cancer is not to wait for the symptoms of cancer to occur, but to go to regular screening tests available for many of the most common types of cancers, and to generally lead a healthier and active lifestyle, which may prevent the occurrence of these serious health conditions.
How much should we worry about the possible symptoms of cancer
Statistics show that women in general are more prone to go to the recommended cancer screenings and checkups, and to seek medical attention for some of the earlier possible symptoms of cancer than men. Men and younger people tend to go into denial mode about some worrying symptoms of cancer, and in some cases people tend to ignore these symptoms because of a false belief that nothing can be done to cure them anyway.
On the opposite end are those people who suffer from a strong hypochondria and the so-called cancer phobia (carcinophobia), who tend to think that every single irregularity or difference in their body is probably cancer.
The truth is, that people should be aware of the possible symptoms of cancer and go to regular screenings and talk to their doctors when they are worried about a symptom, but this doesn’t mean that they should become obsessed with the fear of contracting cancer and dying from it, because this may ruin their life as a whole.
Some symptoms of cancer are specific for the particular sex, so here are some of the common symptoms of cancer for women and for men you should be aware of.
Losing weight without trying can be a worrying symptom both for men and women, especially if it is persistent and involves losing 10 or more pounds a month without changing the diet or increasing the exercise and activities. Of course, such weight loss can be caused by some thyroid or other health problems, but in any case even though some people might find it delightful that they are losing weight effortlessly, a visit to the Doctor is recommended to find the underlying cause.
Another common symptom of cancer in women and especially of ovarian cancer is bloating and a feeling of fullness after a small meal. The bloating resulting from a growing ovarian cancer can also be accompanied by the frequent urgent need to urinate as well. Persistent heartburn and acid stomach can also be symptoms of cancer.
A typical symptom of cancer for men is a change in the testicles, including the form, shape or any lumps and masses, for early identification of which regular self examinations are recommended. Men should be aware that erectile dysfunction and trouble urinating could also be signs of cancer.
A common symptom of breast cancer is a change in the breasts form, size, skin, appearance and a change in the nipple texture or form or any kind of discharge from the nipple, unless breastfeeding. While performing their monthly self examination women should not only feel the breasts and the armpits for lumps and masses, but should also visually examine the breasts if possible in front of a mirror, to see if there is a difference, a reddening, a change of shape and form, etc.
Many men are unaware that breast cancer can happen to men too, so any strange breast mass or another change in the breast area may be a symptom of breast cancer as well.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding in between periods or during the menopause could also be a symptom of cancer, especially the common endometrial cancer.
For both sexes, any other type of bleeding from abnormal places, such as having blood in the stool or urine, or coughing up blood is another sign that the person needs to visit the doctor for a checkup and diagnosis of the underlying cause.
Women and men should examine themselves and be aware of any persistent skin changes, such as scaling, or unexplained bleeding as well as changes in the moles or the pigmentation, because these could be symptoms of skin cancer.
Another possible symptom of cancer is experiencing trouble swallowing, or hoarseness of the voice which can be caused by an esophagus cancer or a thyroid cancer as well.
Persistent coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing can mean that you may have a chest congestion or another lung or airways disorder, including cancer as well.
Pancreatic cancer is often associated with depression and abdominal pain, so these could be symptoms of cancer as well when they occur without an underlying other reason.
An unexplained and persistent problem with indigestion and a permanently upset stomach can be caused by stomach, esophagus or throat cancer, and medical advice should be sought if the problem persists without a reason.
Swelling and lumps of the lymph nodes anywhere in the body can be a troublesome symptom of some kind of cancer as well.
A change in the mouth including white spots should be taken seriously, especially if the person is a smoker, because they could be symptoms of oral cancer.
Any other worrying symptoms including unexplained persistent fever, fatigue and pain should also be taken seriously, and medical advice should be sought in order to rule out the possibility that these are symptoms of cancer, or if they are so that an earliest possible diagnosis and treatment is performed, so as to increase the chances of full recovery and a longer survival rate.