The regular hustle and bustle of our daily lives means that we are often too busy or too distracted to take proper care of ourselves. For many of us this means that we skip meals altogether or make poor food choices when we do find the time.
Our bodies are complex machines that will let us know when something is wrong providing we stop and pay attention. Cancer can be a disease that literally comes out of nowhere. It is not unusual for those individuals who have been diagnosed, to state they had some changes in body functions that didn’t seem to mean that much at the time.
The early warning signs and symptoms of cancer can be subtle and very easy to shrug off, especially if you are too busy to pay attention. Recognizing the signs of cancer, performing self-exams and taking advantage of regular screening can make all the difference to detecting cancer in its earliest stages and increasing your chances of making a full recovery!
Cancer Symptom Checker: Subtle Warning Signs of Cancer that People Often Ignore
• A lump beneath the surface of the skin: A lump or lumps in the breast tissue are often found during a monthly self-breast exam. Understanding how to perform a self-exam along with knowing what you are looking for can help you recognize changes, even subtle ones.
What many of us don’t realize is that self-exams can be performed on other areas of the body to discover irregularities before they turn into something much more serious.
• Itchy skin: The body recognizes cancer as a type of bacteria. Your immune system is designed to fight off the bacteria by using your white blood cells to disarm and destroy it. It is not uncommon for blood flow to increase in the area with a cancerous growth making it appear red, itchy and warm to the touch.
• A break in the skin that doesn’t heal: If you notice an abrasion or other break in the skin that is taking a long time to heal, it could be a subtle sign that you have cancer.
Your immune system is your first responder and since your immune system prioritizes in order of importance your body will not attempt to heal a superficial injury, instead it will send white blood cells to attack the more immediate and serious problem of possible cancer.
• Bumps inside your mouth: Bumps that appear in your mouth, your gums or on your throat, especially if they are white in color, should be examined by your health care professional to rule out serious signs of illness.
• Trouble swallowing or loss of appetite: If you are having difficulty swallowing, suffer from indigestion or experience a loss of appetite, make an appointment with your health care provider to rule out serious illness. Once the digestive process has been interrupted it will affect your immune system along with your body’s ability to get the essential nutrients that you need to survive.
• Changes in bowel movements: If your bowel habits and movements change and the changes last for more than two days, you should seek the advice of a healthcare professional. Finding blood in your stool for example will need to be evaluated by a medical professional to rule out colon cancer.
• Changes in Urination: Changes in your urine including the strength of the flow, the color, odor or presence of blood or foam should be immediately discussed with your health care provider so they can perform testing along with a medical diagnosis to rule out signs of serious illness.
• Signs of bleeding: Unexpected bleeding from the uterus, nipples or other areas is cause for concern. Make an appointment with your physician immediately for an examination and testing.
• A persistent cough that doesn’t diminish: If you have a persistent cough that lasts longer than 1 to 2 weeks, a cough that is painful or if you are coughing up blood, make an appointment to see your doctor. Cancer of the esophagus, throat, lungs or stomach can cause constant coughing and should never be ignored.
Breast Cancer Screening Mammograms & Ultrasounds in Greater Atlanta, GA
About the author: Raja P. Reddy, MD is a board certified diagnostic radiologist specializing in breast imaging. He is also a contributing editor for Women’s Imaging Specialists, a leading provider of outpatient women’s imaging services in the greater Atlanta, GA area.
Women’s Imaging Specialists offers Mammograms and Ultrasounds at locations in Athens, GA; Cumming, GA; Dublin, GA; Eagles Landing, GA; Fairhope, AL; Gulf Shores, Al; Gwinnett, GA; Monroe, GA; and Warner Robins, GA.