Do I have cancer?
This question is filled with many emotions the least of which is uncertainty and fear. At Dayspring Cancer Clinic, we believe it’s important to have not only information, but also to make sure that information is grounded in evidence-based data. The light you can shed on a subject; the better patients and their friends and families can best move forward on a more positive journey to better health. To assist on this journey, we first want to provide some general guidelines or signs that you can look for to understand if cancer may be possible. Of course, it is critical that you seek and consult competent healthcare providers for a more definitive diagnosis. Nevertheless, an early detection of possible signals can improve the outcome if cancer in fact does exist. Before we share with you the 5 common signs of cancer, let’s better understand how cancer can affect the body and the possible associated reactions.
Sign or symptom?
To better help you identify possible signs or symptoms of cancer, let’s distinguish the difference between the two. A sign is something that can be measured and observed by someone else like a family member or a medical professional. An example of this is a potential rash on the skin, an odor for a particular wound, or the temperature spike because of a fever. By contrast, a symptom is usually observed or felt by the individual such as pain, nausea, a headache, or being tired. Signs and symptoms of cancer are typically associated with things such as the location of where the cancer is, how big, or how long it has grown as these factors determine how much it affects tissues and organs. If the cancer has spread or metastasized to other parts of the body, the signs and symptoms may also appear in other areas of the body.
How does cancer cause signs or symptoms?
Cancer causes the number of cells to grow beyond the number of what they would normally be. As a result, the growth or tumor becomes larger encroaching upon other tissues and organs of the body. This increased pressure can cause blood vessels to swell and nerves to send of signals of pain indicating there is something abnormal going on with the body. Cancer can also affect how the body produces energy thus resulting in increased fatigue and tiredness. The immune system may react to counter the effects of cancer cell growth leading to inflammation.
Top 5 signs that may indicate you may have cancer:
1. Ongoing pain.
As cancer grows, the pressure on nerve cells or it spreading to other parts of the body will trigger a reaction from the nerve sensing an issue. If you are not aware of an injury to certain area of your body and regular treatment like rest does not alleviate the pain, it may be a symptom of advanced cancer.
2. Unexplained weight loss.
Weight naturally fluctuates for many reasons including stress, a change in life, or a change in eating or exercising. However, when the weight loss is a result of lack of appetite, nausea, or difficulty chewing or swallowing, this can be attributed to cancer particularly stomach, esophagus, or pancreatic cancer. Cancer can lead to inflammation of the body from an immune response and disrupt hormones that regulate appetite as well. Your body is under more energy demands when a cancer is growing which may cause your body to burn more fat and muscle in order to fuel the change. Again, weight loss may not be a sign you have cancer but if you can’t determine why it is occurring or if it is so sudden, you may want to get a confirmation the loss isn’t cancer related.
3. Change in bowel or bladder.
For cancers like colon or rectal cancer, the bowel movement is affected leading to either constipation or diarrhea. Blood in the urine or stool is something also to be aware of and can be a concern.
4. Skin change.
Moles and lesions in the skin particularly if there has been a change in color, size, or shape can indicate skin cancer. If the color of the skin or eyes becomes yellow with jaundice-like symptoms, it may be a sign the liver or gall bladder is under pressure that may be a result of cancer.
This is a sign that results when your body’s immune system is trying to fight the cancer. If you feel cancer fatigue it can feel like it’s paralyzing and comes on suddenly with exertion in physical activity. This fatigue isn’t remedied with rest or a good night sleep and affects mental and emotional health. This fatigue can last weeks or longer than a month so it’s important to check with your doctor.
It's important to know the possible signs and cancers because every second of early detection makes it more likely that you will have a positive outcome to treatments and therapies. At Dayspring Cancer Clinic, we understand that any diagnosis of cancer is emotionally challenging. That is why we want our patients to be better prepared with information and insights that will help them have the best possible outcomes via the most personalized therapies that we can provide.