Early detection of cancer is crucial for effective treatment, so being aware of the signs and symptoms is important. «First and foremost, you must rule out that something is seriously wrong,» says Dr. Marc Romano, a psychologist, nurse practitioner and assistant medical director at Delphi Behavioral Health. «Doctors are like trainers; their job is to keep you as healthy and fit as possible to avoid health problems from arising.» Here are five symptoms that could be cancer, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Changes in urinary patterns could be a sign of prostate cancer, doctors warn. «Any type of changes to your urinary system could be suspect,» says urologist Daniel Kaplon, MD, FACS. «Look for changes in the stream, more frequent urination, stopping and starting or weakened stream, and having the urge to urinate at night. Although less worrisome, don’t ignore any pain or burning during urination. If you begin to leak when laughing, sneezing, or coughing, be aware this can be a very early sign. A new onset of erectile dysfunction should also be discussed with your doctor.»
«Fatigue may develop as a symptom of blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, because these cancers start in the bone marrow, which produces red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body,» says Eugene Ahn, MD. «Fatigue may also be a symptom of undiagnosed metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body). This is more common in cancers that aren’t typically caught early, such as lung cancer or ovarian cancer.»
Lumps in the breast should never be ignored, doctors say. «A breast lump will feel like a distinct mass that’s noticeably more solid than the rest of your breast tissue. Lumps can range in size — from the size of a pea to larger than a golf ball — and may or may not be movable,» says Dr. Jitesh Joshi, medical oncologist at Houston Methodist Cancer Center. «On the other hand, normal breast tissue will feel like consistent fibrous mesh throughout your breast.»
A dull ache or pain in the lower abdomen and groin could be a sign of testicular cancer. «These symptoms are caused either directly by testicular cancer in the scrotum, or as the cancer spreads from the testicle and goes to the lymph nodes in the pelvis and abdomen,» says
Rodwell Mabaera, MD, PhD, research director, Genitourinary Oncology, Dartmouth Cancer Centers. «This can sometimes be masked, and be dismissed due to recent injury or perceived injury. Following an obvious injury, any pain that does not respond to rest or over-the-counter treatments within 2 weeks should be evaluated by a doctor.»
Unintentional weight loss could be a sign of something serious, experts say. «In studies that examined the causes of unintentional weight loss, 5 to 37 percent of patients were eventually diagnosed with cancer,» says Dr. Richard Levine, Medical Director at Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza. «But it is not always indicative of cancer, and there are many other causes.»