Coronavirus pandemic isn’t the only health scourge out there. “Cancer is a disease which occurs when changes in a group of normal cells within the body lead to uncontrolled, abnormal growth forming a lump called a tumor; this is true of all cancers except leukemia (cancer of the blood),” say the World Cancer Day‘s organizers. “If left untreated, tumors can grow and spread into the surrounding normal tissue, or to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic systems, and can affect the digestive, nervous and circulatory systems or release hormones that may affect body function.” Read on to see what the CDC says are symptoms of the most common cancers, so you can spot them early—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on Saved by the Bell, recently passed away at age 44 from lung cancer. “Different people have different symptoms for lung cancer,” says the CDC. “Some people have symptoms related to the lungs. Some people whose lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized) have symptoms specific to that part of the body. Some people just have general symptoms of not feeling well. Most people with lung cancer don’t have symptoms until the cancer is advanced. Lung cancer symptoms may include—
- Coughing that gets worse or doesn’t go away.
- Chest pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Coughing up blood.
- Feeling very tired all the time.
- Weight loss with no known cause.
Other changes that can sometimes occur with lung cancer may include repeated bouts of pneumonia and swollen or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) inside the chest in the area between the lungs. These symptoms can happen with other illnesses, too. If you have some of these symptoms, talk to your doctor, who can help find the cause.”
“A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole. Not all skin cancers look the same,” says the CDC. “For melanoma specifically, a simple way to remember the warning signs is to remember the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma—
- “A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
- “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
- “C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
- “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
- “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?
Talk to your doctor if you notice changes in your skin such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, a change in an old growth, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma.”
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“Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all,” says the CDC. “Some warning signs of breast cancer are:
- New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.”
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“Early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms,” says the CDC. “Advanced cervical cancer may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal for you, such as bleeding after sex. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor.”
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“Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first,” warns the CDC. “Someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer is so important.
If you have symptoms, they may include—
- Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
- Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away.
- Losing weight and you don’t know why.
If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer. The only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.”
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“Ovarian cancer may cause the following signs and symptoms,” says the CDC:
- “Vaginal bleeding (particularly if you are past menopause), or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic area.
- Abdominal or back pain.
- Feeling full too quickly, or difficulty eating.
- A change in your bathroom habits, such as more frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation.
Pay attention to your body, and know what is normal for you. If you have unusual vaginal bleeding, see a doctor right away. If you have any of the other signs for two weeks or longer and they are not normal for you, see a doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see a doctor.”
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“Different people have different symptoms for prostate cancer. Some men do not have symptoms at all,” says the CDC. “If you have any of the following symptoms, be sure to see your doctor right away—
- Difficulty starting urination.
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
- Frequent urination, especially at night.
- Difficulty emptying the bladder completely.
- Pain or burning during urination.
- Blood in the urine or semen.
- Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away.
Keep in mind that these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer.”
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“Uterine cancer may cause vaginal discharge or bleeding that is not normal for you. Bleeding may be abnormal because of how heavy it is or when it happens, such as after you have gone through menopause, between periods, or any other bleeding that is longer or heavier than is normal for you. Uterine cancer may also cause other symptoms, such as pain or pressure in your pelvis,” says the CDC. “If you have bleeding that is not normal for you, especially if you have already gone through menopause, see a doctor right away. Also, see a doctor if you have any other signs or symptoms for two weeks or longer. These things may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor.”
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Don’t put off cancer screenings—and if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact a medical professional. (There are unfortunately many other kinds of cancer too; read more about them from the CDC here.) And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.