You probably know someone who gets a little sniffle or stomach ache, and before they can get to a doctor, they automatically assume the very worst: cancer. You may even be that person yourself. Luckily, most of these ailments turn out to be something common and benign that’s easy to treat. However, there are a few unusual symptoms that could indicate you’re dealing with the big c-word, and you don’t want to ignore them.
- 1. Loss of Appetite
Everyone experiences the occasional loss of appetite for no particular reason. You may even find that issues like a bad cold or a bad mood make you feel less hungry. However, a persistent loss of appetite can indicate cancer of the stomach, ovaries, colon or pancreas.
2. Unhealing Sores
Everyone experiences an occasional sore on their body that they can’t exactly explain, but it usually clears up within a few days. If you have a sore that bleeds continuously or doesn’t go away within a reasonable amount of time, it could actually be a sign of skin cancer. The same can be said for sores in and around your mouth, especially if you’re a smoker.
3. Extreme Exhaustion
Don’t panic if you feel tired occasionally — that’s normal. What’s not normal is extreme fatigue that lasts for days, weeks and months, even when you change your habits. If getting more sleep, eating a healthier diet, getting some exercise or eliminating stress from your life doesn’t make you feel less tired, it’s time to see your doctor.
4. Persistent Cough
Coughing is common with issues like a common cold, the flu or bronchitis. It can also be associated with allergies. But if you develop a cough that’s not associated with any other type of illness and it doesn’t go away after a while, it could be one of the symptoms of cancer of the lungs.
5. Unexplained Weight Loss
If you’re like most people, your weight probably fluctuates from time to time, but a sudden weight loss without changes in your eating and exercising habits could be a sign of something more dangerous. If you lose more than 10 pounds, and you aren’t sure why or you weren’t trying to lose that weight, talk to your doctor.
6. Persistent Fever
Fever is a sign that you have an infection in your body, and it’s most often associated with illnesses like the flu. What many people don’t realize is that cancer can also cause you to run a fever that seems to come out of nowhere. That temperature may go up and down during the day, but if it reaches 100.5 degrees for several days in a row with no underlying illness, it could be a sign of lymphoma, leukemia, kidney cancer or liver cancer.
7. Trouble Swallowing
Have you ever felt like something you ate was stuck in your throat? This is a common sign of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease, but it’s also an important warning sign of esophageal cancer. If it happens once or twice, you’re probably okay, but if it’s persistent or gets worse have it checked out.
8. Unusual Bleeding for Women
Ladies, this one’s especially for you. Any type of unusual bleeding when you’re not on your period or you’ve already gone through menopause is something that should concern you. While it’s not always serious, it can be a sign of endometrial or cervical cancer.
9. Unusual Lumps
Any type of unexplained lump that pops up under your skin is something that should concern you. It probably won’t hurt, and it may just be an infection, a benign tumor, a cyst or something else that isn’t too serious. However, it could also be a sign of cancer, especially if it’s in your breast, neck or, for guys, your testicles. It’s always a good idea to have it checked out.
10. Unexplained Pain
Everyone has unexplained pain, so don’t panic the minute you experience a headache or back pain. However, if that headache is persistent for weeks, it could be a symptom of a brain tumor. If that back pain doesn’t go away after you make some changes to your habits, you may be showing symptoms of ovarian cancer or colorectal cancer.