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Warning Signs You're Getting Cancer According to Doctors

Never ignore these cancer symptoms.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Knowing the signs and symptoms of cancer is key to early diagnosis and treatment, doctors say. "With so many types of cancer, symptoms and warning signs can vary case by case," says medical oncologist Timothy Cox, MD.  "However, abrupt and unexplained changes on the outside of your body are typically a sign of something happening on the inside. The best way to catch cancer early is to perform regular self-checks. Always pay attention to your own body." Here are five warning signs of cancer, according to doctors. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Weight Loss

weight loss

Sudden, unexplained weight loss could be a sign of cancer, experts warn. "For many people with cancer, this unexplained weight loss is one of the first indications of the disease," says hematologist and oncologist Munveer Bhangoo, MD. "Someone who loses this amount of weight without a clear reason should see their physician to determine what is causing it."




"Extreme fatigue that doesn't get better with rest can be an early sign of cancer," according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Cancer uses your body's nutrients to grow and advance, so those nutrients are no longer replenishing your body. This 'nutrient theft' can make you feel extremely tired."


Skin Changes

woman in her 40s skincare for wrinkles

Keep track of any changes to your skin, especially moles and freckles. "New moles, freckles and other skin changes can be an early sign of skin cancer," says Dr. Cox. "The good news is that early diagnosis can lead to a 98 percent chance of a 5-year survival rate."


Swelling or Lumps

man prostate cancer, premature, ejaculation, fertility, bladder problem

Lumps and swelling could be a sign of cancer and should never be ignored, doctors say. "Usually, an enlarged testicle or a small lump or area of hardness are the first signs of testicular cancer," says Jennifer A. Linehan, MD. "Any lump, enlargement, hardness, pain, or tenderness should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. Other symptoms of testicular cancer usually do not appear until after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body."



man hold his had and suffering from headache, pain, migraine

Constant pain that doesn't go away could be a sign of cancer. "If you have ongoing pain and it isn't going away with medication, exercise or other pain relief techniques, something might not be working right in your body," says Dr. Cox. "Although rare, frequent or persistent headaches can be a sign of a brain tumor, and abdominal or pelvic pain can be a sign of colon, rectum or ovarian cancer."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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