A woman looks worried.
A woman looks worried.
A woman looks worried.

Early Cancer Warning Signs: 5 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

Today, people are living longer than ever after a cancer diagnosis due to improved cancer screenings. Routine screenings catch diseases earlier, when they are more straightforward to treat.

One symptom you shouldn't ignore: Unexplained weight loss

Noticing one of the following symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer. But to be safe, talk to your doctor about these five signs and symptoms. 

  1. Unexplained Weight Loss

    When you lose weight for no reason, call your doctor. A loss of 10 pounds or more could be nothing to worry about. However, in rare cases, it may be the first sign of cancer.

  2. Fatigue

    This isn’t fatigue similar to how you feel after a long day of work or play. Extreme fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest can be an early sign of cancer.

    Cancer uses your body’s nutrients to grow and advance, so those nutrients are no longer replenishing your body. This “nutrient theft” can make you feel extremely tired.

    There are lots of underlying causes of fatigue, many of them not cancer-related. If your symptoms are severe enough to affect your quality of life, call your doctor.

  3. Fever

    Fever can be a common symptom of colds and the flu, and clears up on its own.

    Certain characteristics of recurring fever can foretell a possible cancer connection. You should pay particular attention if:

    • A fever happens mostly at night.
    • You have no other signs of infection.
    • You experience night sweats.
  4. Pain

    Pain is another symptom that can be caused by a multitude of health issues, most of which are not cancer. But persistent pain, can also hint at an underlying disease.

    Cancer can cause pain in different ways, including:

    • A mass or tumor pushing on other areas of your body
    • The chemicals a cancer releases
    • Metastasis, or spreading from where a cancer started

    If you’re experiencing pain that doesn’t go away — and you’re not sure where it came from — your doctor can help with the best next steps.

  5. Skin Changes

    Our skin is the largest organ of our body and can be a window into our overall health. Jaundice (yellowing of eyes or fingertips) is one symptom that could suggest a possible infection or cancer. Contact your doctor if you notice any signs of jaundice.

    Changes in moles can also be cause for concern. Call your doctor if a mole:

    • Is asymmetrical, or has jagged edges
    • Has irregular borders
    • Changes color or gets darker
    • Is large or growing

    These aren’t the only ways your body could react to an early cancer. Check out these other symptoms

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