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Cancer is a chronic disease that can affect different parts of the body.
It occurs when cells in the body start to divide and grow uncontrollably, destroying healthy tissues and leading to a wide array of symptoms.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018.
Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are among the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common among women, says the global health agency.
Early detection is said to be the key to treating cancer on time. Regular check ups is the best way to diagnose the disease in its early stages.
However, one may also experience signs and symptoms that can indicate the disease.
1. Persistent cough
You may develop a cough due to various reasons. A viral infection, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause a persistent cough. However, an intense, continuously worsening cough can also indicate lung cancer. It can be characterized as a dry cough that comes in spasms. You may feel the need to clear your throat constantly. In a later stage, you may cough up blood or a rusty sputum.
2. Change in bowel habits
According to the UK National Health Services (NHS), a person diagnosed with bowel cancer develops a number of symptoms including a persistent change in bowel habits. It may cause the patient to go to the toilet more often and pass looser stools, usually together with blood on or in their stools.
3. Lump or swelling in any part of the body
Bumps that suddenly appear in the body can be concerning. While not all lumps are cancerous, large, hard, painless to the touch bumps and sudden swelling may indicate the disease. Cancerous lumps gradually grow in size and can be felt from the outside of the body. These can appear in the breast, testicle, or neck, but also in the arms and legs. Regular self-examination can help you detect such cancerous lumps.
4. Changes in mole
Changes in mole size, shape and colour should not be taken lightly. It can indicate melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer. According to Mayo Clinic, it develops in the cells that produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color.
5. Unexplained weight loss
A person suffering from cancer is likely to experience drastic weight loss for no clear reason. According to Cancer.Net, it may be the first visible sign of the disease. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that significant weight loss happens most often with cancers that affect the stomach, pancreas, esophagus and lung.
6. Pain and discomfort
Pain that lingers on for weeks and months should not be ignored, especially if you have no reason for it. The discomfort can range from being dull, achy, sharp or burning. Not only is it persistent, it can also be severe.
7. Difficulty in swallowing food
When a person is unable to or finds it difficult to swallow food, he or she may be suffering from dysphagia. This condition is prevalent in cancer patients who have a tumor growing in their neck. This can cause blockage or narrow down food passage, which makes it difficult to swallow food.
8. Blood in urine
Blood in urine can be the most common symptom of bladder cancer, says the NHS. The condition is medically called haematuria and it’s usually painless, explains the health body. However, according to Prostate Cancer UK, some men diagnosed with prostate cancer also notice blood in their urine. This occurs due to the bleeding from the prostate, explains the charity.
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