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If This Sounds Like You, You're at Risk for "Deadly" Cancer

Five warning signs of cancer to never ignore, according to experts.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

While people over the age of 65 are more at risk for cancer, anyone at any age can be diagnosed and early detection is vital. Knowing the signs to watch out for can literally be lifesaving. While cancer symptoms can mimic many other health issues, being aware of warning signals your body is telling you is key to survival. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience who shares cancer signs to pay attention to. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


You Have Changes to Your Skin


Marchese says, "A mole or skin lesion that has changed in size, color or shape could be an early indication of skin cancer. A helpful rule of thumb is ABCDE: Asymmetrical, Border, Color, Diameter and Evolving. An asymmetrical skin lesion means one half does not look like the other, and an irregular border means the outline might have many curves or angles. Variations in color within the same mole are also an early sign; the spot may transition from areas of tan to red or black or brown. A skin melanoma larger than 6 mm across should also raise concern and any combination of the above features." 


You've Experienced Rapid and Unexpected Changes in Weight


According to Marchese, "Rapid weight loss or weight gain are potential signs of problems with metabolism. These issues might stem from liver or kidney disease and cancers that affect your body's processing of nutrients and waste. Associated symptoms might include eating problems, such as constant hunger, feeling full, trouble swallowing, abdominal pain, and nausea or vomiting." 


You Have Swelling or Lumps


Marchese tells us, "While some masses are benign, meaning they won't grow and spread like cancer, there's no way to be sure without a biopsy. A lump anywhere in the body can be hard or soft, and it may or may not move freely. These masses can also be painful to touch or painless to move and palpate. Regardless of its characteristics, you must speak with your doctor as soon as you notice irregular masses anywhere in the body." 


You Notice Changes in Bowel Habits

open the bathroom door, go to toilet

"There are many reasons why your bowel may be irregular, such as diet, changes in activity or infection," says Marchese. "However, constipation or diarrhea that does not go away is cause for concern and could be a sign of cancer in the digestive tract. You should also keep an eye on the appearance of your stools and talk to your doctor if you notice signs of blood, pus or mucus." 


You Have Fever or Night Sweats

Marchese explains, "While people typically correlate fevers with infection, high temperatures or sweating at night could be an early sign of cancer. Your body may react to cancer growth via inflammatory reactions, which can cause fevers and sweat without an infection. If you notice elevated body temperatures at night or are experiencing fevers without other signs of infection, speak with your doctor as soon as possible." 

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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