The 8 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Cancer are:
- Sores that refuse to heal
Sores on any part of the body which are difficult to heal, such as sores on the skin, vagina, or oral cavity, should be dealt with promptly and should not be overlooked.
- Unusual bleeding or discharge
Any unusual bleeding from any orifice of the body may be a sign and symptom of cancer. Blood in the phlegm could be a sign of lung cancer. Blood in the stool (or a dark or black stool) could be a sign of colorectal cancer. Abnormal vaginal bleeding could indicate uterine, ovarian or cervical cancer. A bloody discharge from the nipple may be a sign of breast cancer.
- Thickening of lump in the breast or on other parts of the body
Many cancers can be felt through the skin, particularly in the breasts, testicles, lymph nodes, and the soft tissues of the body. A lump or thickening may be an early or late sign of cancer and should be reported to a doctor, especially if you have just discovered it or noticed that it has grown in size.
You may be feeling a lump that is at an early stage of cancer that may be treated successfully. Any lump or thickening on any part of the body should be reported to your doctor as this could be an early or late sign of cancer.
- Change in bowel habits or bladder function
Chronic constipation, diarrhea, or a change in the size of your stool may indicate colon cancer. Pain with urination, blood in urine, or a change in bladder function (such as more frequent or less frequent urination) may be related to bladder or prostate cancer. Any changes in bladder or bowel function should be reported to your doctor.
- Nagging cough or hoarseness
A persistent cough may be a sign of lung cancer. Persistent hoarseness could be a sign of cancer of the larynx (voice box) or thyroid.
- Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
While they commonly have other causes, these symptoms may indicate cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, or pharynx (throat).
- Recent changes in a wart or mole
Any change in the colour, shape,size or loss of definite borders of a wart or mole should be reported to your doctor immediately. It could be a sign of melanoma which, if diagnosed early, may be treated successfully.
- Unexplained weight loss or fever
An unexplained weight loss of about 5kg may be the first sign of cancer, particularly cancers of the pancreas, stomach, oesophagus, or lung.
Fever is generally seen at an advanced stage of the disease. When cancer has spread from its point of origin to other parts of the body, almost all patients with cancer will experience fever at some stage, particularly if the cancer or its treatment affects the immune system and reduces resistance to infection.
These signs do not always mean cancer but if they persist, consult your doctor immediately.
How to minimise the risk of cancer?
The existing body of knowledge about the causes of cancer and about interventions to prevent and manage cancer is extensive. Cancer Control is understood as public health actions which are aimed at translating this knowledge into practice. It includes the systematic and equitable implementation of evidence-based strategies for cancer prevention, early detection of cancer and management of patients with cancer.
These are some measures you can take to minimise the risk of cancer:
1. Don't use tobacco
All types of tobacco can lead to cancer. Rejecting tobacco, or deciding to stop using it, is one of the most important health decisions you can make. It's also an important part of cancer prevention. Avoiding tobacco in any form significantly reduces your risk of several cancers.
Even if you don't smoke, reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke. Many people around the world die of lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.
2. Eat a variety of healthy foods
Though making healthy selections at the supermarket and at all meals can't guarantee you won't get cancer, it may help reduce your risk. About 30 percent of cancers are related to issues of nutrition, including obesity.
3. Stay active and maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly also plays an important role in cancer prevention. Physical activity can help you avoid obesity by controlling your weight. Physical activity on its own may also lower your risk of other types of cancer, including breast cancer and colon cancer.
Try to be physically active as often as you can. Your exercise sessions can include brisk walking, walking the dog or even playing with the children in the park.
4. Protect yourself from the sun
Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer and one of the most preventable. Although repeated exposure to X-rays or contact with certain chemicals can play a role, sun exposure is by far the most common cause of skin cancer.
Most skin cancer occurs on exposed parts of your body, including your face, hands, forearms and ears. Nearly all skin cancer is treatable if you detect it early, but it's better to prevent it in the first place.
5. Get in Immunised
Certain cancers are associated with viral infections that can be prevented with immunisations. Talk to your doctor about immunisation against:
Hepatitis B can increase your risk of developing liver cancer. Vaccination is recommended for all babies. Certain high-risk adults also may need to be vaccinated.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer. Talk to your doctor about whether you would benefit from immunisations to reduce your risk of cancer.
6. Get screened
Regular screening and self-examination for certain cancers may not prevent cancer, but it can increase your chances of discovering cancer early — when treatment is more likely to be successful. Screening should include your skin, mouth, colon and rectum. If you're a man, it should also include your prostate and testes. If you're a woman, add cervix and breast cancer screening to your list. Be aware of changes in your body — this may help you detect cancer early, increasing your chances of successful treatment. If you notice any changes, see your doctor immediately.
The information provided on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Parkway Cancer Centre makes no representation and assumes no responsibility if the information, contained on or available through this website, is taken without our specialists' consult.