Each day, thousands of people sit in exam rooms in doctors’ offices and hear three words that change the courses of their lives forever: “You have cancer.” According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. In 2017, there were 1,688,780 new cancer diagnoses and approximately 600,920 deaths.
And if you look up symptoms of cancer on the internet, well, everything from a headache to blotchy, red skin will send you in an “Oh my God. I have cancer” tailspin, and that’s no good. While all of these should be taken with a grain of salt, it is also important to realize that sometimes, seemingly small cancer warning signs demand your attention.
Fortunately, we’re here to sift through all of the nonsense you can find online and present you with 10 seemingly insignificant signs that can actually be pointing to a bigger problem.
1. Lumps beneath the skin.
We cannot stress enough the importance of doing self-exams once a month at home on commonly affected areas like the breasts. If you feel a lump on the breasts or testicles, it’s time to head to the doctor. While many of these masses end up being benign, it’s better to be safe than so, so sorry.
2. Itchy, red skin.
If you don’t have any history of skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema and you notice extremely inflamed patches of skin, it may be time to see the doc. Your body will try to fight cancer on an immune-system level which can lead to skin inflammation.
3. Bumps on the tongue, back of the mouth, and inside of cheeks.
Any lumps in your mouth should be examined, especially if they’re white.
4. Loss of appetite or trouble swallowing.
These symptoms can point to esophageal, mouth, or any sort of gastrointestinal cancer. And if it is cancer, not being able to eat and take in nutrients won’t help you, so go get it looked at ASAP.
5. Irregular bowel movements.
Anything funky happening in the bathroom department could be an indicator of colon cancer due to inflammation of the colon.
6. Cuts or scrapes that won’t heal.
This also points back to the immune system. If there’s cancer in your body, that’s going to be your immune system’s priority, leading to stubborn knicks and cuts that won’t heal.
7. Urinary issues.
Changes in the strength of urine flow, color, smell, or the presence of foam and blood can point to bladder cancer and should be addressed immediately.
8. Abnormal bleeding.
If you find yourself bleeding from a place that’s not apparently wounded in any way, visit your doctor. Bleeding from areas like the uterus can become visible from the outside and be a response from an underlying issue.
9. Vocal changes.
If you notice your voice change in pitch or tone, it’s probably a good idea to go rule out cancer of the larynx.
10. Excessive coughing.
If you find yourself coughing a ton, this could also be a response to gastrointestinal or lung cancer.
While these may seem small, they could point to something much, much bigger. You know your body better than anyone else, so if you notice that something is up, it’s better to err on the side of caution!