Cancer that affects different parts of the body will present with different symptoms. However, there are some common symptoms associated with different types of cancer. If you have symptom(s) that persist or worsen and concern you, please talk with your primary care provider.
- Unexplained Weight Loss
Cancer almost always causes a weight loss at some stage. If you experience a loss of 10 pounds or more and don't know why, it may be time to see a specialist. You want to rule our cancer that affects the pancreas, stomach, esophagus or lungs.
- Persistent Fever
Cancer only affects the immune system, so a prolonged, unexplained fever could be your body's way of alerting you there is a bigger issue.
- Chronic Fatigue
Fatigue that doesn't get better with rest can be an early sign of certain cancers such as leukemia or colon cancer.
There are some cancers that cause pain. A headache that does not go away or get better with treatment could be a symptom of a brain tumor. Persistent back pain can be a symptom of colon, rectum or ovarian cancer.
- Skin Changes
If you notice skin changes, do not ignore them. While the changes could be a symptom of many things, cancer is a possibility. In addition to any wart, mole or freckle that changes in color, size or shape, skin changes include:
- Darker-looking skin
- Yellowish skin and eyes
- Reddened skin
- Excessive hair growth
- Bowel or Bladder Changes
If you experience constipation or diarrhea that doesn’t get better with treatment, or if you have blood in your stool, see a provider to rule out colon cancer. Other symptoms that should be given attention are pain when passing urine, blood in the urine or a change in urination frequency.
- Persistent Sores
Sores that bleed or don’t heal, could be an indicator of oral cancer. Long-lasting sores on the penis or vagina could be an early symptom of cancer.
- White Patches
White patches inside the mouth and on the tongue could be a pre-cancerous condition caused by frequent irritation like smoking or other tobacco use. If left untreated, this condition, called leukoplakia, can become mouth cancer.
- Bleeding or Discharge
Any unusual bleeding should be taken seriously. This includes blood in the urine, stool or blood that comes from the vagina or nipple.
- Thickening or Lumps
A lump or thickening under the skin may be a sign of cancer and should be looked at. Especially if it is new or has grown in size. Keep in mind that some breast cancers show up as red or thickened skin rather than a lump.
- Persistent Indigestion
- Difficulty Swallowing or Sore Throat
Persistent sore throat or problems swallowing may be signs of cancer of the head & neck, esophagus or throat. Even though this symptom is most often caused by something other than cancer, it is important to rule it out.
- Cough or Hoarseness
A cough that does not go away may be a sign of lung cancer. Hoarseness can be a sign of cancer of the larynx (located in the top of your neck) or thyroid gland.
- Other Symptoms
There are many other symptoms of cancer that are not listed here. It is important to monitor changes in your body, know your risk factors and receive age-appropriate, recommended cancer screenings. Talk with your provider about getting your screening(s) scheduled or if you have any symptoms that concern you.