Cancer is a scary word to most folks. It seems that everyone knows someone who either now has cancer, survived cancer or died from cancer. Organizations focus on breast cancer in October with various walks, runs and fundraisers, and pink “breast cancer awareness” ribbons can be found on everything from clothing to bumper stickers. Cancer horror stories abound even though many cancers are both treatable and survivable.
In fact, cancer is such a scary word that you might find yourself tempted to ignore your own body’s subtle signals that something just isn’t right. I know, because that’s what I did. But since the potential to survive is much better the earlier treatment begins, the best option is to acknowledge your fear and move beyond it by setting an appointment with your doctor.
Though signs are often subtle and can mimic some less serious conditions, and symptoms will vary according to where and how large the cancer is, here are ten symptoms you should not ignore:
Sure, you might feel exhausted after intense activity or a hectic week. But if you are suffering from overwhelming tiredness no matter how much rest you get, it’s time for a visit to the doctor. Many types of cancer can cause extreme fatigue including leukemia, colon and stomach cancers.
In my own case, I’d passed off the unrelenting fatigue for months as just a normal part of the aging process. With the 20/20 vision one gets with hindsight, I now recognize the symptom as having been significant and one that I should have looked into a lot sooner than I did.
8. Skin Changes.
This is the symptom that finally penetrated my state of denial and prompted me to call the doctor for an appointment. I raised my arm over my head one morning after taking a shower and noticed that a two-inch-long section of skin under my breast was puckered. After examining it, I concluded it was nothing important and went about my day. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should at least Google the symptom and see what I could find. What I found was that puckered or dimpled skin, nipple discharge, nipples that turn inward, and redness or scaling of the nipples or breast, are all signs of breast cancer.
Other skin changes – such as the size, shape or color of a mole, wart, freckle or other spot on your skin – are common signs of skin cancer. Some other malignancies can also cause skin changes such as yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice), darker-looking skin, reddened skin, itching and excessive hair growth.