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11 symptoms of cancer that people ignore

POSTED: June 14, 2017 4:00 a.m.
Erika Otero Romero/

A cancer diagnosis is scary. Often, the best thing that can happen is to discover it early and treat it in time. Here are 11 symptoms of cancer that you shouldn't ignore.

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The "c" word. Cancer. It seems like everyday we hear of another friend or family member is facing their own battle. While every patient's experience with cancer is different, early diagnosis and treatment is often a lifesaver.

Here are 11, easily overlooked symptoms that could be early warning signs of cancer and a reason to see your doctor.

1. Frequent dry cough and hoarseness

Even if the cough seems to be harmless, when it comes out of nowhere, becomes persistent and presents bleeding, it is better to schedule an appointment with your doctor so you can be safe rather than sorry.

Hoarseness is a symptom of inflammation in the oral cords and may be evidence of some minor disease or throat cancer.

2. Unexplained weight loss or increase

If you lose or gain weight from nowhere and have been following your usual diet, it is a good idea to go to the doctor for a checkup. An unexplainable change in weight could be a sign of pancreatic cancer, stomach, esophagus or even lung cancer.

Another sign that many people overlook is the difficulty or pain in swallowing. This could be a sign of cancer of the esophagus or throat.

3. Changes in your bowel movement

Everyone is different when it comes to their bowel movements. While some typically have loose stool, others have constipation. An obvious sign that something is not working as it should be is to notice the color of your stool or notice if there is blood present, or if there is chronic diarrhea or constipation. Another red flag is if you regularly have abdominal pain and strong urges to go to the bathroom but doing so is nearly impossible.

If you include that with symptoms of indigestion, cramps and unexplained stomach pains, that should be enough to tell you something is wrong.

4. Unusual vaginal bleeding

Bleeding outside of the usual menstrual cycle is not normal at all. This is a strong indication of problems with the womb and cervix. If you also have hemorrhages, it is best if you go to the gynecologist as soon as possible to avoid any problems in the future.

5. Exhaustion without apparent cause and back pain

Low back pain without a reason may be evidence of ovarian cancer. If you also have fatigue or tiredness without an actual explanation then it is time to go to the doctor.

6. Jaundice

Jaundice is the yellowish color that occurs on the the skin, mucous membranes and eyes. It usually occurs when there are abnormalities concerning the liver, such as hepatitis or liver cancer.

7. Skin or moles changes

To prevent skin cancer it is recommended to use high-spectrum sunscreens and clothing that covers your skin. If you still notice that your moles change shape, color and size and you notice a change to your skin color, it is time to go to the dermatologist for a proper diagnosis.

8. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

It is not normal for a healthy person without asthma or anything of the sort to suddenly develop breathing problems, so if you’re experiencing these symptoms it is best that you speak with your doctor and discard lung cancer.

9. Frequent infections

If you or one of your children have frequent infections and take longer to heal than normal, it is wise to test for leukemia. Another symptom of leukemia is have a frequent fever.

10. Changes in urine color and frequency of urination

Have you noticed that the color of your urine is darker than usual or smells strange? Also, do you go to the bathroom more times to urinate or have difficulty using the restroom? This is a sign that something is wrong with your urinary system, ovaries or kidneys.

11. Frequent pain in the pelvis

Pain in the pelvis is not normal in a healthy woman and may be a sign that there are problems with the reproductive system. If there is inflammation in the lower belly during sexual intercourse, in addition to frequent nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains, it is best to go to the gynecologist. It may be early evidence of cervical cancer or something more “simple” like ovarian cysts.

Although many of the symptoms may seem insignificant and could also be a symptom of a less dangerous illness, the best thing you can do is to talk to your doctor and eliminate the worst possible scenarios.

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