Some of the early physical symptoms of cancer are so mild that many people dismiss them outright.
That's a big mistake. Your best chance of beating cancer is early detection and treatment.
Experts say that you should treat any of the following symptoms with caution because they could indicate the presence of undetected cancer:
- Severe fatigue that doesn't seem to have a clear cause, like stress, depression or even poor sleep habits.
- Changes in your skin anywhere on your body could be a cause for alarm, particularly if the bumps are large, raised or irregular in shape. So are wounds that won't seem to heal.
- Unexplained fevers that keep returning, which can be a sign that your bloodstream is affected. That's a symptom of certain types of cancer, like leukemia.
- A sudden reduction in your appetite when you're not under any unusual stress or anything else that might cause it to happen. A poor appetite is associated with a variety of issues, including colon and stomach cancer.
- If you're hardly able to eat, that's also a problem. If you're a woman and one or two bits of food makes you feel unpleasantly full, that could be a sign of ovarian cancer.
- Unexplained weight loss is a problem signal for both genders. Rule out possible causes like stress and medication-induced loss before you worry, but consider a checkup just to be sure.
- Again, for women, a bloated or swollen stomach can be a sign of ovarian cancer -- especially if it's associated with other symptoms like feeling full and trouble eating.
- Unexplained pain that doesn't seem related to your activity level or an injury is worrisome and bears investigation if it continues.
It's important to take approach these symptoms with caution, but not alarm. If the condition is new and doesn't seem to resolve itself after a week or two at most, that's when you want to be the most concerned. It's also important to look for obvious causes of a problem before you worry.
Once you bring the subject to the attention of your doctor, however, your concerns should be taken seriously. Anything less can amount to medical malpractice -- especially if it deprives you of the opportunity to get timely treatment.