Cancer arises when normal cells convert to tumour cells which grow more rapidly and uncontrollably. Since cancer has no definite, specific symptoms, limiting your risk of the disease and undergoing appropriate screening is crucial. These are some common symptoms that you should not ignore as their manifestation may be an indication of the presence of cancer cells in the body:
- Persistent cough or blood-tinged saliva
These symptoms are usually a sign of sinusitis or bronchitis; however, they may also be due to lung cancer or cancers of the head and neck. A cough that does not go away after a month or the presence of blood in the mucus when you cough is something you should have checked by a doctor.
- Change in Bowel movement or bladder function
Diet changes are the common cause of alterations in bowel habits. These changes include persistent diarrhoea, persistent constipation, and change in stool appearance. They could be a symptom of cancer. Pencil-thin stool, for instance, could indicate the presence of colon cancer.
Bladder function changes like needing to pass urine more or less often than normal or experiencing pain when passing urine are some of the symptoms related to bladder and prostate cancer.
Small changes in weight over time are normal but losing 5 kgs or more for no known reason could be the first sign of cancer, especially cancers of the pancreas, oesophagus, lung or stomach cancer. If you experience unexplained weight loss, tell your doctor so you can find out what has caused it.
- Breast lump or lump in other parts of the body
A lump in the breast or other parts of the body like the testicle, lymph nodes and other soft tissues of the body could either be an early or late sign of cancer. Therefore, you should be sure to have it checked.
- Blood in the stool or urine
Haemorrhoids are the most common cause of blood in the stool; however, they may exist with cancer. Even in the case of haemorrhoids, you should have a doctor examine your entire intestinal tract.
Even though blood in the urine is not due to cancer in most cases, it could be a sign of cancer and you should seek medical assistance.
Aside from skin cancers, there are other cancers that can cause skin changes such as redness of the breast in breast cancer cases. Other skin changes to look out for include itching, excessive hair growth, darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation), reddened skin and yellowish skin and eyes commonly known as jaundice.
Pain is one common way that our bodies tell us when something is wrong. If you experience unexplained pain, pain that comes and goes or pain that is ongoing, you should see a doctor.
- Persistent bloating, heartburn or indigestion
Discomfort is normal, especially if you have had fatty or spicy foods; however, having frequent heartburn or indigestion could be a sign of something serious like cancer. Bloating, particularly for women is common but when it becomes persistent, see a doctor.
The fact that cancer has no definite, specific symptoms makes it difficult to identify in the first stages, that is why it is very important to have regular check-ups so that if you have the disease, it can be diagnosed in the first stages making it easier and more effective to treat.
International Medical Treatment (IMT) can facilitate the process for you to get a full body check-up at one of our partner hospitals overseas. Our partner hospitals offer check-ups that are tailored to meet every patient’s needs, including needs that are age sensitive.