Cancer is a disease that mostly affects aged 50 and older people, but it can occur at any age. This is a disease that starts in our cells. Normally, the genes inside each cell order it to grow, work, reproduce and die which makes us healthy, but sometimes this order get confused, causing the cells to form lumps or tumours, or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
As of now, lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer are the most common types of cancer in Canada.
The tremendous impact of cancer is very hard physically, emotionally and financially. When cancer is found early it is often easier to treat, so don’t ignore any changes to how your body feels. The key is early detection, so a regular checkup to a healthcare professionl is very important.
Here are the 9 warning signs and symptoms of cancer "CAUTION US" that you should not ignore:
C: Change in bowel or bladder habits.
If you noticed any sudden changes in bowel and bladder habits that you think it is not regular for you including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool and a feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely, this could be signs and symptoms of colon cancer. Blood in the urine or urinary urgency and frequency or pain on urination could be a sign of bladder or prostate cancer.
A: A sore that does not heal.
Skin cancers may look like; a spot or sore that does not heal, that itches, hurts, is scabbed or crusty, or bleeds or areas where the skin has broken down (an ulcer) and doesn't heal for more than 4 weeks. A long-lasting sore in the mouth could be an oral cancer.
U: Unusual bleeding or discharge.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding or irregular changes of menstrual cycle experienced by women is a typical sign of endometrial cancer or cervical cancer.
T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere.
Often disregarded as "Just a lump", because most lumps are not caused by cancer. These cancers occur mostly in the breast, testicle, lymph nodes (glands), and the soft tissues of the body. A lump caused by cancer is usually hard, irregularly shaped, and firmly fixed under the skin or deep in tissue. Although they usually do not cause pain, some types of cancerous lumps are painful. Whether the lump is cancerous or not, again, it's better to consult a healthcare provider.
I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
For most people indigestion is not a sign of cancer, indigestion is a common problem that most of us suffer with from time to time which we often ignore. But when you get indigestion a lot or has come on suddenly and it is particularly painful you have to consult your physician this could be a sign of stomach cancer. Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing could be a sign of esophageal cancer.
O: Obvious change in a wart or mole.
You may not have any symptoms in the early stage of skin cancer. Most melanomas start as a new skin growth on unmarked skin. The growth may change color, shape, or size. These types of changes are an early sign that the growth is melanoma. It most often occurs on the upper back in men and women. On older people, the most common sites are the neck, scalp, face and ears.
N: Nagging cough or hoarseness.
A cough that does not go away may be a sign of lung cancer. Hoarseness can be a sign of cancer of the larynx (voice box) or thyroid gland.
U: Unexplained anemia.
Many cancers can cause anemia, but bowel cancers most commonly cause iron deficiency anemia. Evaluation should include endoscopy or X-ray studies of your upper and lower intestinal tracts.
S: Sudden weight loss.
Most people with cancer will lose weight at some point. When you lose weight for no known reason, without trying to lose weight (no dieting and not exercising) it’s called an unexplained weight loss. An unexplained weight loss of about 5kg or more might be the first sign of cancer. This happens most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus (swallowing tube), or lung.
There are other cancer signs and symptoms not listed above, but if you see any changes in the way your body works or body feels let your doctor know.