25 Key Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

General warning signs and symptoms of cancer


We all fear cancer, but different cancers present in different ways. There is no single tell-tale sign that you definitely have cancer. But there are some key signs that can alert you when there are changes in your body. These signs and symptoms can be in relation to cancer.

Whether you are a man or a woman, it’s important to watch for any unusual changes in your body and energy levels. This helps in order to detect any signs of cancer early on. The sooner you notice there’s a problem, the sooner you can begin to take the steps necessary to promote healing within your body.



Signs and symptoms of cancer

Besides, you should follow an anti-cancer lifestyle even before you notice any symptoms. Because, prevention is the best route when it comes to most chronic diseases. It is very rare for many years to pass between exposure to a cancer-causing agent such as tobacco, chemicals, radiation, poor nutrition, etc. and detectable cancer.

While routine tests are important, it is just as important to listen to your body and notice anything that’s different, odd, or unexplainable.

Key Signs Of Cancer

The following is a list of some of the most common key signs and symptoms of cancer. Having any one or all of the following does not mean you have cancer, but you must go and see your doctor to get them checked out.

1. Breathlessness

It’s not unusual to feel out of breath every now and then. But if you notice that you’re feeling breathless more than usual or for a lot of the time, tell your doctor.

2. Drenching night sweats

Sweating at night can be caused by either infections or a side effect of certain medications. It’s also often experienced by women around the time of the menopause. But very heavy, drenching night sweats can also be a sign of cancer and should be checked out by your doctor.

3. Unusual lump or swelling anywhere

Persistent lumps or swelling in any part of your body should be taken seriously. That includes any lumps in areas such as the neck, armpit, stomach, groin, chest, breast or testicle. See your doctor to have it checked out.

4. Chronic cough or chest pain

Several types of cancer such as leukemia and lung tumors, can cause symptoms that resembles a bad cough or bronchitis. Some lung cancer patients report chest pain that extends up into the shoulder or down the arm.

5. Coughing up blood

If you’ve coughed up blood, no matter how much or what colour, it’s important to tell your doctor. It may be nothing to worry about, but it’s important to get it checked out.

6. Frequent infections

These can be signs of leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells that starts in the bone marrow. Leukemia causes the marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells, sapping your body’s infection-fighting capabilities.

7. Difficulty swallowing

Trouble swallowing is most commonly associated with esophageal or throat cancer. Sometimes, it’s one of the first signs of lung cancer, too.

8. Excessive bruising or bleeding that doesn’t stop

This symptom usually suggests something abnormal happening with the platelets and red blood cells. It can be a sign of leukemia. Over time, leukemia cells crowd out red blood cells and platelets, impairing your blood’s ability to carry oxygen and clot.

9. Weakness and fatigue

Generalized fatigue and weakness is a symptom of so many different kind of cancers. But you’ll need to look at it in combination with other symptoms. However, any time you feel exhausted without explanation and it doesn’t respond to getting more sleep, talk to your doctor.

10. Bloating or abdominal weight gain

Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer overwhelmingly report unexplained abdominal bloating that came on fairly suddenly and continued on and off over a long period of time.



11. Hoarseness of voice

Having a hoarse voice or feeling croaky can be common with colds. But a prolong hoarseness of voice needs assessment from your doctor.

12. Feeling full and unable to eat

This is another tip-off to ovarian cancer. Mostly, they say they have no appetite and can’t eat, even when they haven’t eaten for some time.

13. Pelvic or abdominal pain

Pain and cramping in the pelvis and abdomen can go hand in hand with the bloating that often signals ovarian cancer. Leukemia can also cause abdominal pain due to an enlarged spleen.

14. Rectal bleeding or blood in stool

This is a key sign of colorectal cancer. Blood in the toilet alone is reason to inform your doctor.

15. Unexplained weight loss

Weight loss is an early sign of colon and other digestive cancers. It’s also a sign when the infection spread to the liver, affecting your appetite and the ability of your body to rid itself of wastes.

16. Upset stomach or stomachache

Stomach cramps or frequent upset stomachs may indicate colorectal cancer.

17. New mole or changes to a mole

Most moles remain harmless throughout our lives. But be aware of any new moles or existing moles that change in size, shape or colour, become crusty or bleed or ooze. Let your doctor know.

18.Breast changes

A red, sore, or swollen breast. These symptoms can indicate inflammatory breast cancer. Sometimes, a nipple that began to appear flattened, inverted, or turned sideways. Call your doctor about any unexplained changes to your breasts.

19. A change in bowel habit such as constipation or diarrhea

Stomach flu and food poisoning are often the cause of loose, frequent stools. But if you’ve noticed any change in your bowel habit, it’s important to tell your doctor. Whether that’s looser poo, pooing more often, or constipation.

20. Unusually heavy or painful periods or bleeding between periods

Many women report this as the tip-off to endometrial or uterine cancer. Consult your doctor if you suspect something more than routine heavy periods.

21. Swelling of facial features

Some patients with lung cancer report noticing puffiness, swelling, or redness in the face. This can be due to blood not flowing freely from your head and face.

22. A sore or skin lump that doesn’t heal

The skin repairs itself very quickly and any damage usually heals within a week or so. When a spot, wart or sore doesn’t heal, even if it’s painless, a doctor needs to check it.

23. Nail changes

Unexplained changes to the fingernails can be a sign of several type of cancers. A brown or black streak or dot under the nail can indicate skin cancer, while newly discovered “clubbing”– enlargement of the ends of the fingers with nails that curve down over the tips — can be a sign of lung cancer. Pale or white nails can sometimes be a sign of liver cancer.

24.Problems with urine

Problems peeing (urinating) can include needing to pee urgently, or more frequently. It might also include being unable to go when you need to or experiencing pain. These symptoms can all be caused by conditions other than cancer, but it’s important to tell your doctor if you experience any of them.

25. Pain in the back or lower right side

Many patients say this was the first sign of liver cancer. Breast cancer is also often diagnosed via back pain, which can occur when a breast tumor presses backward into the chest, or when it spreads to the spine or ribs.



About felclinic 583 Articles
Felix Ntifo is a Registered General Nurse who has so much passion to improve health care delivery. He founded FelClinic with the hope of making health information accessible to everyone who may not come in contact with him personally. "At felclinic.com we are very passionate about health and well-being of everyone. Our team is made up of professional doctors, nurses, midwives and lab technicians."

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