If there’s one health condition that frightens everyone, it’s cancer. Cancer comes in many different forms, and it can occur in just about any part of the body. From your tiny, imperceptible blood cells to your major organs, cancer can strike anywhere, at any time.
According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 1.7 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year¹. Over 600,000 people die from some type of cancer annually². And often, the symptoms of cancer aren’t noticeable or obvious, meaning tumors can grow without you even knowing.
In fact, some of the first symptoms of different cancers can seem like the same symptoms as the common cold. So, if you’re facing any of the following changes to your health, you might be dealing with the signs or symptoms of cancer.
Headaches are one of the most common health woes people face. A headache can happen any time – and you don’t even have to be ill to get one. You can develop a headache if you’re stressed out, if you’ve been working long hours, or even if you’re tired or dehydrated.
But as simple and common as a headache might be, it can also be a sign that something serious is happening inside your body. If you’re experiencing persistent or frequent headaches, you might be experiencing one symptom of cancer.
According to Medical News Today, headaches can be a symptom for a few different types of cancer: leukemia, lung cancer, and brain cancer are common culprits³. Make sure to talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing more frequent headaches, or headaches that won’t let up.
Fevers commonly accompany ailments like colds and viruses. Typically, fevers are a sign that your body is fighting off something – and they often disappear within a few days. Fevers aren’t usually worrisome unless they’re very high.
However, a fever could be a sign that your body is fighting cancer. The American Cancer Society notes that a fever can be one of the first symptoms of cancer⁴. In fact, it’s commonly one of the very first symptoms, and nearly everyone with cancer gets a fever at some point.
A Nagging Cough
If you develop a cough, you likely assume you’re battling a regular old illness. Coughs are a common symptoms of colds, viruses, and even the flu. However, they can also be a sign of more serious conditions, like pneumonia and long-term lung ailments.
Surprisingly, a cough can also be a symptom of cancer. If you have a nagging, persistent cough that won’t go away, you should speak with your doctor. The American Cancer Society reports that a persistent cough is a common sign of lung cancer; it can also be related to cancer of the larynx or thyroid⁵.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Have you noticed that you’re losing weight without really trying? Are you shedding pounds without dieting or changing your eating or exercise habits? It’s time to talk with your doctor.
Unexplained weight loss is never a good sign. It’s often a symptom of an underlying health concern – there are many conditions that could cause your body to begin losing weight. And one of them is cancer.
According to The American Cancer Society, unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more could be a sign of cancer⁶. Pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, and lung cancer often cause this symptom. Make sure to point out a significant change like this when seeing your doctor.
Feeling Tired or Lethargic
It’s normal to feel tired. When your days are busy, you’re stressed out, and you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep, you’ll experience fatigue and exhaustion. However, if you’re feeling like you can’t catch up on your rest, can’t stay awake, or are more tired than usual, it’s time to see a doctor.
Fatigue can be a symptom of many different health problems. From the common cold to thyroid problems, many ailments can leave you feeling perpetually tired and worn out. Yet you should also be concerned about the possibility of cancer. The American Cancer Society notes that fatigue can accompany cancers of all kinds, like leukemia, colon cancer, and stomach cancer⁷.
Who hasn’t experienced bloating? Even the smallest changes to your normal habits, like a big meal, can leave you bloated. And as your body goes through different daily ups and downs, you might experience periods of bloating.
But if you can’t seem to shake what appears to be normal bloating, it’s time to be concerned. Bloating that lasts longer than usual, or that occurs more often than you’ve previously noticed, could be a serious sign. As WebMD points out, bloating is a symptom that accompanies many different cancers, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer⁸.
Make sure to note any unusual or long-lasting bloating with your doctor.
Don’t Let Seemingly Normal Symptoms Go Untreated
Cancer is one of the biggest concerns facing your health. Even if you aren’t living with cancer currently, millions more people develop the disease every year. And it can occur in nearly every area of the body, at any age and stage of life. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of different cancer symptoms, and how they can affect your health.
To catch cancer early, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your health and any changes. If you’re noticing even small, subtle differences, make sure you talk with your doctor. You can determine what’s causing your symptoms, then develop a plan to treat them. Just make sure you take action as soon as possible.