When someone’s detected with cancer, people assume that sooner or later, death is certain. Agreed that survival rates of some cancers aren’t very good due to the fact that they are diagnosed really late. By that time, metastasis (cancer spread) has occurred and death becomes inevitable due to multiple organ failure. However, if we are aware of the fact that anyone – be it a child, a newlywed, a young active college-going kid or your aging mother, can suffer from cancer, it is worth your while to know and understand the disease. Awareness about its presenting symptoms could be life-saving. Difference of a few days in the diagnosis and treatment due to increased awareness could just save someone’s life!
Generally, at an overall level, if fever, body ache, a feeling of ill-being and unexplained loss of weight are troubling you for more than three months, one can suspect cancer. Do visit your physician and get your blood tests done. There could also be chronic tiredness & fatigue because in certain cancers, the bone marrow does not produce enough red cells leading to reduced hemoglobin and weakness.
Though we obviously cannot enlist every presenting symptom here as every person is unique and it may present differently every time, we have attempted some of the more common ones:
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation for a prolonged time period: could be a symptom of intestinal cancer.
- Persistent cough and hoarseness of voice: If it persists despite full course of antibiotic therapy, it could indicate cancer of the throat.
- Blood in stools: could indicate gastrointestinal cancer.
- Blood in urine: If you happen to see reddish-colored urine and have fever and pain in the abdomen, it could be a cancer of the kidney.
- A non-healing ulcer in the mouth: It could indicate an oral cancer, especially if you are a smoker or chew tobacco (as gutka, tambaku).
- Prolonged menstrual bleeding: If you witness periods for more than 10 days to weeks, it could indicate uterine cancer.
- Blood in sputum/ phlegm along with cough: If you have persistent cough leading to blood in your phlegm/ sputum, it could indicate lung cancer.
- Recurring jaundice: If you’ve been suffering from jaundice off and on, it’s time you screen yourself for liver cancer.
- Lump in the breast: Although not all lumps in the breast are cancerous, it is worthwhile to get them examined by a good breast surgeon. Women over 35 years of age should ideally get mammography done every one or two years.
- Change in the size of a wart, mole: It could indicate skin cancer.
- Thickening or lump anywhere on the body which is either growing or lasts for more than a few days should be shown to the physician too.
Now that you are aware, do get yourself or your loved ones screened early for better chances of survival. Do spread the word – it could save someone’s precious life
Also read: War on Cancer