By Kathleen Wiley, RN, BSN, OCN
Grand Mesa Oncology & Infusion Center
February, 2017 – No matter if you’re young or old it’s good to be aware of signs of cancer. Finding cancer early leads to the best prognosis. Treatment works best when the cancer is small and hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or other parts of your body. Being aware of changes in your body and bringing this information to your doctor could save your life. The American Cancer Society uses the C-A-U-T-I-O-N to recognize seven early signs of cancer:
* Change in bowel or bladder habits. This could mean diarrhea or constipation that lasts for more than four weeks. Let your doctor know if you have chronic problems with painful or difficult urination.
* A sore that does not heal. Spots that bleed and won’t go away are signs of skin cancer.
* Unusual bleeding or discharge. Blood in your stool is not normal. Blood in your stool may be bright red and could be caused by hemorrhoids. The stool could be black which means you could be bleeding from your stomach or intestine. Women who bleed between periods or after menopause should see their gynecologist. Endometrial cancer often makes women bleed at abnormal times.
* Thickening or lump in the breast, testicle or elsewhere. A woman or man should tell the doctor if she/he notices a lump in a breast or has discharge from a nipple. Men can also get breast cancer, although this is less common. A man should talk to his doctor if he notices a lump, redness or change in the size of his testicles.
* Indigestion or difficulty swallowing. Gas, indigestion, bloating or abdominal pain that lasts more than four weeks is not normal. Difficulty swallowing could mean a problem in your throat or esophagus.
* Obvious change in the size, color, shape or thickness of a wart, mole or mouth sore. Get unusual or new moles, bumps, marks on your body checked. You want to make sure that you don’t have skin cancer.
* Nagging cough or hoarseness. See the doctor if a cough is severe, lasts more than three weeks or you see blood when you cough.
There are other signs and symptoms that could signal the presence of cancer. Persistent fatigue, low-grade fevers, swollen lymph nodes and night sweats may be warning signs of cancers such as Hodgkin’s Disease, Leukemia, or Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Persistent headaches, unexplained weight loss and chronic pain in bones or other parts of the body are all symptoms to talk to your doctor about. Not all of the symptoms listed above are always due to cancer. There are plenty of common illnesses that could cause similar problems. That’s why it’s good to talk to your doctor if you’re feeling that have had changes in your health.