Experts say that when it comes to surviving cancer, early detection is still key. This can be tricky, because early cancer symptoms aren’t as well known as, say, those of a heart attack. Additionally, the signals a tumor creates can be vague and easily confused with other conditions. These are five potential cancer symptoms you should always be alert for. If you experience them repeatedly, it’s a good idea to call your doctor and ask about screening. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
After a bowel movement, if you feel like you’re not getting the job done, it could be constipation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or a sign that you have a tumor in your colon (colon cancer). Feeling like you’re not completely emptying the bowel is a condition called tenesmus, and it can be caused by a growth blocking your colon or rectum. If you experience this sensation repeatedly and it doesn’t go away, talk with your healthcare provider.
If you feel nauseous or vomit after eating fatty foods, it could be a symptom of pancreatic cancer. When a cyst or tumor grows on the pancreas, it can cause a partial blockage of the digestive tract. The pancreas also produces enzymes that help digest fat, and if the organ is diseased, that digestion can be interrupted.
That uncomfortably tight feeling in your belly might be gas pressure or caused by something you ate. But women should be especially alert to recurrent bloating, which is one of the most common early signs of ovarian cancer. “Take note if it seems constant, doesn’t come and go, and can’t be explained by occasionally eating gas-producing foods,” says MD Anderson Cancer Center. If you’ve been bloated for weeks and the condition doesn’t go away, tell your doctor.
Anytime you experience weight loss without trying, it’s cause for concern. Doctors say this is the most common symptom of cancer. If you’re dropping pounds but you haven’t started a new diet or are going extra-hard at the gym, talk to your doctor.
If you have a cough that won’t go away, get tested for COVID. If you test negative but your hacking won’t subside, you should see a doctor. Any cough that persists longer than two to four weeks should be evaluated by a physician, because it may be a sign of lung cancer. If you’re a longtime smoker—and even if you’re not—ask your healthcare provider if you should have a low-dose CT scan as screening. And to get through life at your healthiest, don’t miss these 13 Everyday Habits That Are Secretly Killing You.