In an effort to stay safe from coronavirus, many of us have put off the annual screenings and check-ups where cancers are often caught. That’s understandable. Still, early detection is one of the best weapons against the disease.
Screenings can detect a cancer before symptoms appear. You too can pick up on early warning signs by paying close attention to changes in your body. If you notice something new or different that lasts several weeks – and several weeks is key – reach out to your health care provider. Not every symptom that could be cancer is cancer. But here are 17 symptoms that may warrant a call to your doctor:
1. Abnormal periods or pelvic pain
Most women have the occasional irregular period or cramps. But persistent pain or changes in your cycle can be a sign of cervical, uterine or ovarian cancer.
2. Changes in bathroom habits
Significant changes in bodily functions can indicate colon, prostate or bladder cancer, among other cancers. Warning signs include persistent constipation or diarrhea; black or red blood in your stool; black, tarry stools; more frequent urination; and blood in your urine.
We all feel bloated now and then. But bloating for more than two weeks can be a sign of ovarian cancer, as well as various gastrointestinal cancers.
4. Breast changes
These include a new lump, dimpling, discoloring, changes around the nipple or unusual discharge that you didn’t have before. Although most breast cancer occurs in women, men can develop it too.
5. Chronic coughing
A cough that persists for more than two weeks, especially a dry cough, can be a sign of lung cancer.
6. Chronic headache
A headache that lasts more than two weeks and doesn’t respond to the usual medications can be caused by a brain tumor.
7. Difficulty swallowing
If you feel as though food is getting stuck in your throat or you have trouble swallowing for more than two weeks, this can be a sign of throat, lung or stomach cancer.
8. Excessive bruising
A bruise on the shin from bumping into the coffee table is normal. But suddenly getting a lot of bruises in unusual places that haven’t been bumped can indicate various blood cancers.