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It's a word that brings goosebumps to your skin and makes your heart skip a beat — cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease in the next year. And while we have come so far with treatment options, the best cure against this scary disease is prevention. But even knowing that, there are signs that most people ignore or brush off as insignificant. But they're not — they could save your life — and they're all listed for you below. If you feel that something is out of whack, be sure to contact your doctor.
Most people think of weight loss as a good thing, but weight loss for no known reason is a common sign in the early stages of some types of cancer. Sixty percent of people with lung cancer and 80 percent of people with stomach, pancreatic, or esophageal cancer have lost a significant amount of weight by the time they are diagnosed. So if you're not intentionally dieting and you lose more than five percent of your normal weight in a month, be sure to let your doctor know.
It's not a stretch to say that everyone gets tired, but there's tired, and then there's TIRED in a way that makes it almost impossible to go through your daily tasks and doesn't get better with sleep. It's a sign that something in your body isn't properly functioning, and a cancer may cause fatigue as the cancer cells use up the body’s energy supply and change the way the body makes energy from food. It's a common early symptom in some cancers like leukemia, stomach, or colon cancers.
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We've all had a fever, but what could it really mean? It's the body’s response to infection or illness, and cancer accounts for about 20 to 30 percent of fevers where the origin is unknown — meaning you don't have the flu or another virus. Fever may be a sign of early cancer in the case of blood cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma. Fever may also reveal colon and kidney cancer at an early stage. It doesn't matter how high or low the fever is, but rather the duration. Unexplained fevers should always be investigated.
Nobody likes pain, but it's a sign that something's not right in your body and is one of the most common early symptoms of bone cancer. At first, the pain may not be constant and may only worsen with movement. That said, approximately 20 percent of men have a sharp pain in the testicle or scrotum as a first symptom of testicular cancer. When it comes to the lungs, cancers may press on nerves resulting in pain in the shoulder, chest, back, or arm even before they cause any difficulty breathing or coughing. And yes, not to be dramatic, but that headache could be a sign of a brain tumor. Don't freak out, but if it's persistent get thee to a doctor.
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Nobody likes to talk about their bathroom habits, but doing so could save your life. Sometimes cancer can block a bowel, meaning you can't pass gas and are constipated. Constant diarrhea or watery stool should also be looked at for obvious reasons. Changes in shape of your stool such as if your stool becomes thin, narrow, or ribbon-like could be an indication of changes inside your colon caused by cancer. So while you might not want potty talk, anything out of the ordinary going on with the toilet situation for more than a couple of weeks should be brought to your doctor.