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12 cancer symptoms you should NOT ignore

Last updated on: November 11, 2011 18:39 IST

If you suffer from any of the following signs healthwise, it's wise not to ignore them.

Life is pretty uncertain -- we never know what's in store for us. But can we afford to sit idle keeping this theory in mind? We, the pilots of our own lives, can choose to give them proper direction.

And time is an important factor in all our efforts. Action delayed is action denied. This holds true in every aspect of life -- financial, personal, professional and healthwise. We seem to pay much attention to the first three spheres, while health takes a backseat. But we can work and fulfill the other aspects of our lives only if our health allows us to do so.

Still, we often ignore certain symptoms which our body presents from time to time. Sometimes these disappear on their own, while at others, they may indicate something more serious -- the nesting of cancer cells in our body.

Here are a few cancer symptoms which you cannot afford to ignore:

Unexpected weightloss

Many women would be delighted to lose weight without having to exercise or go on a strict diet, but this may turn out to be a symptom of cancer -- unless it is caused by a hyperactive thyroid gland. Hence unexpected and unintentional weightloss should not be neglected.


Photographs: Melissa/Flickr on Wikimedia Commons

Bloating is so common in women that we almost learn to live with it. But if the bloating continues for a longer timespan, then it is something which should not be neglected. Watch out for other symptoms like pelvic pain, urinary problems, incontinence and a feeling of fullness without having eaten much. These symptoms can denote ovarian cancer.

Breast changes

Photographs: Linda Bartlett/Wikimedia Commons

Due to an increase in breast cancer awareness, many women have now developed the habit of self-examination. They normally look for lumps, but this is not the only symptom. A woman should watch out for redness and thickening of the breast skin as well. A persistent rash over a few weeks will need medical attention. Nipple discharge even if a woman is not breastfeeding may also indicate cancer of the mammary glands.

Even men have some chances of getting affected with breast cancer. This may seems unusual, but it is true. Men should also watch out for similar symptoms and should get themselves checked if any of these symptoms make their appearance.

Unusual bleeding

Photographs: Commons

If you notice any in-between period bleeding or unusual bleeding, then you should not ignore it! Sadly, many premenopausal women tend to ignore this. It can be a symptom of uterine, endometrial or colorectal cancer.

If blood appears in your urine or stools then it can be more than just hemorrhoids. It can denote cancers of the colon, bladder or kidney. Go for a medical checkup if bleeding occurs after coughing.

Changes in skin

Photographs: Rei/Wikimedia Commons

Watch out for skin changes like scaling, excess pigmentation, bleeding or new mole formations. These can be symptoms of skin cancer.

Difficulty swallowing

Photographs: Gabriel Rodr guez from Sevilla, Spain on Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

Difficulty or discomfort experienced while swallowing food, if persistent, should be brought to the attention of a doctor. This may indicate esophageal cancer.

Changes inside the mouth

Photographs: Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin from Chalakudy, India on Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

If you are a smoker or if you consume any form of tobacco, then you will need to check for any white spot on the tongue and the inside of the mouth. It can be a sign of oral cancer or leukoplakia.


Photographs: J. Heuser/Wikimedia Commons

The American Cancer Society claims that any persistent pain or ache in the body should be checked as a symptom of cancer, although all pains do not necessarily indicate cancer development.

Changes in the lymph nodes

Photographs: Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia Commons

If you observe an enlargement in the lymph nodes on the neck or in the armpits and if it persists for over a month, then you may need to get it checked. Suffering from any type of infection may lead to changes in the lymph nodes, but if this is not the case, then it may be cause for concern.

Fever and cough

Photographs: Zwager/Wikimedia Commons

If you have a persistent fever, unexplainable in terms of influenza or any other infection, then it can be a sign of leukemia or lymphoma. An individual may experience fever if the cancer starts spreading from its original site.

Similarly, cough may accompany flu and cold or fever, but if the cough remains persistent for over three weeks, then it should not be ignored.

Changes in the testicles

Photographs: Iflwlou/Wikimedia Commons

Testicular cancers are common in men who fall in the age group of 20 to 39. Regular self-examination is necessary and any change in the usual appearance should not be ignored.


Fatigue may be a vague symptom, but it can point towards leukemia or stomach cancer. In other types of cancer, fatigue and fever mostly set in after the disease has advanced. Fatigue can be due to stress or working overtime too. If adequate rest does not solve the problem, then you may need to check with your doctor.

These are some common symptoms of cancer, but a careful physical examination, a review of one's medical history and the findings of X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and biopsies may be needed for confirmation. Hence, you should get yourself checked by a physician before coming to a conclusion. Since symptoms mark the onset of any disease, it it is very important to understand early signals to avoid future complications.

LifeMojo is a wellness company, helping people to live a healthier life. LifeMojo provides online and on phone nutrition consultation services to help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.