Cancer is clinically associated with a number of symptoms that usually reflect the cell or organ that has become diseased. Sometimes, however, the warning signs may be less clear or undefined. An ongoing issue with patients is how often the telltale signs of illness are ignored, especially when they have no obvious cause. Weight loss, pain and lumps that are unexplained can be symptoms of the disease.
The Cancer Center states: “If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss what you are experiencing.
“That way, your doctor is able to help better understand what your symptoms mean, perhaps properly diagnose your symptoms and continue to monitor for issues or refer you to a specialist.
“When it comes to cancer prevention, you are your own best advocate.”
The health body lists “unexplained weight loss, unexplained lumps and unexplained pain” as three symptoms that are easily overlooked by patients.
Read more: Pancreatic cancer symptoms: A ‘particularly bad smell’ when you go to the toilet is a sign
But at times, sufferers also ignore fever of unknown origin, night sweats, persistent heartburn, sores of the mouth or tongue that do not heal, bloating, irregular bowel patterns and trouble swallowing.
Since cancer cells have no nerves of their own, most patients will not feel pain.
However, when pain occurs, it is usually a sign of a tumor pressing on nerves near the tumor.
Typically, a lump that is a symptom of the disease will rapidly increase in size over the course of weeks and months.
“Cancer lumps that can be felt from outside your body can appear in the breast, testicles or neck, but also in the arms and legs,” explains the Cleveland Clinic.
unexplained weight loss
Weight loss can happen with almost any cancer – but it most often occurs with cancers that affect the stomach, pancreas of the esophagus and lungs.
What’s more, for many people it is the first visible sign of disease.
Scientists believe that cancer releases substances into the blood that affect how the body uses calories from food.
That, and the fact that cancer cells require more energy than healthy cells, could potentially explain why weight loss is seen in patients.
Richard Levine, medical director of the Moffitt Cancer Center, a weight loss of more than five percent over a period of six to 12 months can be cause for concern if it is unexplained.
The expert explained: “In studies examining the causes of unintentional weight loss, between five and 37 percent of patients were eventually diagnosed with cancer.
“But it’s not always a sign of cancer, and there are many other causes.”
Although there are no definitive ways to prevent cancer, evidence suggests that a large number of cancers are caused by poor dietary habits, so it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle to avoid the disease.