When it comes to cancer, catching the signs and symptoms early is crucial. While many cancer symptoms can be shared with other common illnesses, it’s important to pay attention to aches and pains that last longer than usual or get worse with time. Below are some of the common red flags that you should never ignore.
While many people suffer from an occasional cold sore or canker sore, it’s important to keep any eye on any sores in the mouth that don’t seem to be healing. Lingering mouth sores may be an indication of oral cancer, especially if you smoke, drink or use chewing tobacco. Keep an eye out for unusual white patches inside the mouth or on the tongue, as well–these patches are known as leukoplakia, a pre-cancerous lesion that can lead to oral cancer if left untreated.
Rapid Weight Loss:
Unless you are starting a new diet or workout routine, be wary of any sudden, large loss of body weight. While there are a number of other potential explanations for rapid weight loss, it is also a symptom of certain types of cancer, such as pancreatic, lung and stomach cancer. Even if you lead an active lifestyle, extreme weight loss in a short period of time–such as 5 to 10 pounds in a week–should be a warning sign to speak with a medical professional.
Feeling tired isn’t unusual after a busy day, but you might have cause to be concerned if you are dealing with constant fatigue that does not improve with rest and a balanced diet. As with many other signs of cancer, fatigue is a symptom shared by dozens of less serious illnesses, so don’t panic just because you’re feeling tired. Instead, speak with your physician to explore the root cause.
Skin cancer is one of the easiest cancers to detect early, due to the presence of visible skin changes. If you discover a wart, mole, freckle or skin tag that seems to be changing color, shape or size, speak to a professional right away. Dark patches on the skin are another common sign of melanoma, especially if the border of the discolored area begins to fade. If you spend much of your work or recreational time outdoors, always take proper precautions and stay vigilant for any changes to your skin.