Cancer Symptoms (cont.)
More Cancer Signs and Symptoms
- Blood in the urine
- Hematuria or blood
in the urine can be caused by urinary infection, kidney stones, or other causes.
- For some people, it is a symptom of cancer of the bladder or kidney.
- Any episode of blood in the urine should be investigated.
- Hoarseness not caused by a respiratory infection or that lasts longer than three to four weeks should be evaluated.
- Hoarseness can be caused by simple allergy or by vocal cord polyps,
but it could also be the first sign of cancer of the throat.
- Persistent lumps or swollen glands
- Lumps most frequently represent harmless conditions such as a benign cyst. A doctor should examine any new lump or a lump that won't go away.
- Lumps may represent cancer or a swollen lymph gland related to cancer.
- Lymph nodes swell from infection and other causes and may take weeks to shrink again.
- A lump or gland that remains swollen for three to four weeks should be evaluated.
- Obvious change in a wart or a mole
- Multicolored moles that have irregular edges or bleed may be cancerous.
- Larger moles are more worrisome and need to be evaluated, especially if they seem to be enlarging.
- Removing a mole is usually simple. You should have your doctor evaluate any suspicious mole for removal. The doctor will send it for examination under a microscope for skin cancer.
- Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
- Most people with chronic heartburn
usually do not have serious problems.
- People who suffer from chronic or lasting symptoms despite using over-the-counter antacids may need to have an upper GI endoscopy.
- A condition called Barrett esophagus,
which can lead to cancer of the esophagus, can be treated with medication and then monitored by a doctor.
- Difficulty swallowing is a common problem, especially in elderly people, and has many causes.
- Swallowing problems need to be investigated,
because nutrition is always important.
- Difficulty swallowing solids can be seen with cancer of the esophagus.
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or bloody discharge may be
an early sign of cancer of the uterus. Women should be evaluated when they have bleeding after intercourse or bleeding between periods.
- Bleeding that comes back, that lasts two or more days longer than expected, or that is heavier than usual also merits medical examination.
- Postmenopausal bleeding, unless expected on hormone therapy, is also worrisome and should be evaluated.
- Usually, the evaluation will include an endometrial biopsy, in which a doctor takes a small tissue sample from inside the uterus for testing.
- A PAP smear should be part of a woman's routine medical care.
- Unexpected weight loss, night sweats, or fever
- These nonspecific symptoms might be present with several different types of cancer.
- Various infections can lead to similar symptoms (for example, tuberculosis).
- Continued itching in the anal
or genital area
- Precancerous or cancerous conditions of the skin of the genital or anal areas can cause persistent itching.
- Some cancers cause skin color changes.
- Several infections or skin conditions (for example, fungal infections or psoriasis) also can
cause these symptoms. If itching does not stop with over-the-counter topical
medications, your doctor should inspect the area.
- Nonhealing sores
- Sores generally heal quickly. If an area fails to heal, you may have cancer and should see a doctor.
- Nonhealing sores in your mouth or persistent white
or red patches on your gums, tongue, or tonsils are also should raise concerns.
- Some nonhealing sores may be due to poor circulation (for example, diabetic foot ulcers).
- Headaches have many causes (for example, migraines, aneurysms) but cancer is not a common one.
- A severe unrelenting headache that feels different from usual can be a sign of cancer, but
aneurysms may present in the same way.
- If your headache fails to improve with over-the-counter medications, see a doctor promptly.
- Back pain, pelvic
pain, bloating, or indigestion
- These are common symptoms of daily life, often related to food intake, muscle spasms or strains, but they also can be seen in ovarian cancer.
- Ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to treat, because it is frequently diagnosed late in the course of the disease.
- The American Cancer Society and other organizations have been trying to make both patients and physicians more aware and consider this diagnosis if the classic symptoms are present.
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