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Major Signs of "Deadly" Cancer, Say Studies

Watch for these warnings.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Scientists are the first to tell you that cancer is a disease that isn't fully understood. At the same time, they agree that certain symptoms are red flags for cancer and indicate you should see a doctor ASAP to rule it out. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


You May Have Bleeding Back There

Mature woman sitting in bed at home.

Rectal bleeding is often attributed to hemorrhoids. Often, that's what causes it. However, unless you've had a colonoscopy to make that diagnosis, it's possible that blood in the toilet bowl or on toilet paper could be caused by colon or rectal cancer. Bright red or dark red blood in the stool should always be reported to your doctor immediately. 


You May Have Bloating


Bloating, pain or pressure from the pubic bone to below the ribcage that lasts more than two weeks are warning signs of ovarian cancer. This type of cancer is known as a "silent killer," because early detection is difficult—there is no routine screening test, and the first symptoms can be vague and easily overlooked. According to the American Cancer Society, most ovarian cancers develop after menopause. If you have ovaries, it's important to be alert to these potential symptoms, which can also include feeling full soon after eating. 

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You May Have Unexpected Weight Loss

young brunette woman standing on a scale

Many of us might consider losing weight without trying to be a stroke of luck. But weight loss without an attributable reason can be a warning sign of cancer, especially if it's accompanied by loss of appetite or changes in bowel habits. Unexplained weight loss can signify cancer of the esophagus, liver, colon and pancreas, as well as leukemia or lymphoma. It should always be reported to your doctor right away.

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You May Have Skin Changes

Woman looking at her reflection in a mirror.

Any changes in a mole or freckle—or the appearance of new moles—could be a sign of skin cancer. Doing regular self-exams can lead to early detection of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, and can save your life. Remember ABCDE when doing skin self-exams, and tell your doctor if you see any of the following in a mole or freckle:

A = asymmetry

B = border changes

C = color changes

D = diameter changes (increase in size)

E = elevation or evolution (a growth that has changed over time)

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You May Have a Lingering Cough

Sick woman with flu at home

In most cases, a nagging cough is the sign of a cold or virus. But viruses only last for a few weeks at most. A chronic cough can be a sign of lung cancer. Any cough that persists for more than two to four weeks should be evaluated by a physician. Assessment with an X-ray or CT scan may be necessary.

And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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