Cancer can cause almost all kinds of signs and symptoms.
Symptoms are things other people may see, such as fever, vomiting, and rapid breathing. Symptoms are felt only by the sick person. For example, symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, and pain appear. (1)
You may experience both signs and symptoms of cancer, which are signs that something is wrong with your body. Recognizing these indicators can lead to an earlier diagnosis and possibly a better prognosis.
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How does cancer cause signs and symptoms?
As the cancer grows, it pushes on nearby organs, nerves, and blood vessels, causing signs and symptoms. Even the smallest tumors can cause symptoms in some organs, such as the brain.
If your cancer has spread, known as metastases, you may notice signs and symptoms in different parts of your body.
Another reason you may have symptoms is because the cancer cells are using up a lot of your body’s energy supply. They also change your immune system. (1)
Although each case is different, some general symptoms of cancer include:
Weight Loss Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more can be one of the first signs of cancer. Weight loss is common in people with pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, or lung cancer, but it can occur with any type of cancer. (1,2)
Fever Fever is common when cancer has metastasized. Night sweats often accompany fever. Almost everyone with cancer has a fever at some point. (1,2)
Fatigue Being very tired can be a symptom of cancer in your body. (1,2)
Lumps Lumps or thickening of the skin can be early or late signs of cancer. People with tumors often cluster in the breast, lymph nodes, soft tissue, or testicles. (1,2)
Skin changes Yellowing, darkening, and redness of the skin are signs of cancer. Also, non-healing wounds should be examined. Additionally, moles, freckles, and spots that change in color, shape, or size can be signs of skin cancer. (1,2)
Pain In most cases, pain occurs because the tumor has spread throughout your body. But pain can be the first symptom of bone cancer or testicular cancer. Back pain is common in people with colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, or ovarian cancer. People with brain tumors complain that their headaches do not go away. (1,2)
Changes in bowel and bladder function Constipation, diarrhea, and other bowel problems can be symptoms of colon cancer. People with bladder cancer or prostate cancer may experience pain when urinating, blood in the urine, or other changes in bladder function. (1,2)
Cough or Hoarseness A cough that does not go away or a hoarse throat can be a sign of lung cancer, larynx cancer, or thyroid cancer. (1,2)
Indigestion can be a symptom of stomach, esophagus, or throat cancer. (1,2)
Bleeding Unusual bleeding is associated with many types of cancer. Coughing up blood can indicate lung cancer. Bloody stools can be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. Vaginal bleeding may be abnormal in women with cervical or endometrial cancer. Blood in the urine means bladder and kidney cancer. Bleeding from a woman’s nipples indicates breast cancer. (1,2)
Oral changes White spots inside the mouth or on the tongue can be a precursor to oral cancer. Mouth sores, bleeding, and numbness can be symptoms of some cancers. (1,2)
Enlarged lymph nodes Sometimes enlarged lymph nodes can be a sign of cancer. If your gland is still swollen for 3-4 weeks, you should see your doctor. (1,2)
Shortness of breath Frequent shortness of breath can be a symptom of some cancers. (1,2)
Bloating A constant, unpleasant feeling of fullness that lasts for several weeks every day can be a symptom of ovarian cancer. (3)
Anemia Several cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, can cause anemia (low red blood cell count). These abnormal levels show up in blood tests. Anemia can make you feel tired. (4)
In most cases, these symptoms are not caused by cancer. The culprit could be a benign tumor or another problem. But you shouldn’t ignore symptoms that are persistent, severe, or don’t go away.
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Signs that your cancer has spread
If your cancer has spread to other parts of your body, your symptoms may be different or more severe.
Here are some common symptoms of cancer that has spread.
Bone Metastases Cancer that has spread to the bones