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5 Cancer Signs Not to Ignore, According to Oncologists

Oncologist reveals signs of cancer to pay attention to. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Nobody wants to hear the word cancer from their doctor, but in many cases it's no longer the death sentence it once was thanks to new treatments and early detection screenings. That said, cancer cases are rising according to Dr. Liudmila Schafer, an associate professor of medicine and published board-certified medical oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal cancers with over 20 years of experience and founder of The Doctor Connect who spoke with Eat This, Not That! Health. "The field of oncology is rapidly growing as the average age of the U.S. population steadily rises and the number of patients diagnosed with cancer continues to increase. Although the median age at diagnosis is 71 years and 40% of cases diagnosed are in patients older than 75, there have been increasing incidences of colon cancer among people younger than 50. Globally, five-year survival rates for all cancers increased from 50.5 to 67 percent." Dr. Schafer explained to ETNT! Heath what cancer signs to watch out for and why cancer is more treatable today. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Wasting Syndrome


Dr. Schafer says, "wasting syndrome is the loss of fat and muscle that causes weight loss. Cancer causes the immune system to release chemicals into the blood that causes inflammation and speed the process of loss of fat and muscle, commonly in cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and pancreas."


Bloody Stool

Woman with prostate problem in front of toilet bowl. Lady with hands holding her crotch, People wants to pee - urinary incontinence concept

"It happens because the mucosa of the gut gets damaged as a barrier," says Dr. Schafer.  "Cancer inside the bowel weakens the lining that is the barrier to the gastrointestinal tract. Cancers in the esophagus, stomach, colon, or rectum may cause bleeding."


"Pencil-Like" Poop

open the bathroom door, go to toilet

Dr. Schafer explains, "Mass in the colon keeps your stool from moving through in its normal shape as a sign of colon cancer. "


Abdominal Pain

Unhealthy woman sit on bed touch stomach

According to Dr. Schafer, "Cancer in the colon or rectum causes stretching of the bowel wall and causes pain or spasms. Cancer can make holes in the colon wall that cause pain in the belly."


Nausea and Vomiting

Woman Suffering From Nausea

"In the colon, tumors can prevent the digestive contents from moving forward, causing the food to go back up. For this reason, nausea and vomiting occur," says Dr. Schafer. 


Why Cancer is More Treatable Today

woman consulting with female doctor

Dr. Schafer explains, "Cancer is much more treatable today because of awareness of the symptoms early. If you're able to detect early, you will have a less-invasive surgery, with a faster recovery time, fewer medical bills, a greater chance for long-term survival, and a normal and healthy life. We have made great strides in recent years to treat cancer because there are promising new advances in colon cancer research, including an active clinical trial to create a more personalized treatment. Just because you're diagnosed with Colon Cancer, doesn't mean you should make premature decisions based on what you've heard from someone else with the disease. Make sure to ask your doctor about molecular tests that help identify which clinical trial you're eligible for."

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How to Help Avoid Cancer

woman consulting with her female doctor

To prevent cancer, schedule a screening," Dr. Schafer states. "People don't like to "show their butt," but scheduling a colonoscopy is a very safe and necessary procedure that can literally save your life. Despite the age being 45 years old, we recommend anyone younger than 45 who is experiencing symptoms to get screened as well."

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Know Your Family Tree

happy family on couch

It's important that people talk to their family and learn their family history," Dr. Schafer reminds us. "It's not just imperative to know if Colon Cancer runs in the family, but if you have other cancers in your family, then you can potentially have the gene that can precipitate any kind of cancer related to this gene."

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Lifestyle Choices Make a Difference

stop smoking

"The encouraging news: there are steps we all can take to reduce our risks and pay attention to the signs someone has cancer,"  Dr. Schafer states. "The good news is you have many lifestyle choices when it comes down to cancer risk and quitting smoking! Did you know there are 16 cancers that can be caused by smoking? Also, a healthy and balanced diet along with exercise are key factors in determining whether someone has an increased or decreased chance of developing any type of solid tumor." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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