Cancer is a scary word. But when you know all the facts, knowledge and understanding can reduce the fear. Find out everything you need to know about cancer and its effects...

Early Symptoms of Cancer

In most of the cases, cancer produces no symptoms that are definitive of the disease. It is rather unfortunate that every early sign or symptom of cancer can also be attributed to one or the other harmless disease. However, if there is an occurrence of certain symptoms, doctor’s evaluation is necessary. Some of the early symptoms of cancer include:

• Lasting cough with bloody sputum: Although this could be a symptom of other relatively harmless conditions like sunisitis or bronchitis, a persistent cough that has lasted for over a month or cough with bloody sputum could imply lung, neck or head cancer.

• Bowel movement changes: In most cases, bowel movements are related to fluid intake and diet but in some cases, thin stools and diarrhoea could be early symptoms of cancer of the colon.

• Blood in stools: Rectal bleeding is generally caused by hemorrhoids but because of their commonality, there is a chance that they exist with cancer. Hence any blood in the stools should be reported to a doctor and the intestinal tract should be examined with x-rays or colonoscopies.

• Lump in the breast: Most of the lumps in the breast are benign tumors like cysts or fibroadenomas. However, the symptom should be thoroughly examined as it is one of the early symptoms of cancer of the breast. In some cases, lumps are also accompanied by breast discharges.

• Urination changes: Frequent urination, slow flow of urine and small urine quantities generally indicate urinary infections but they could be early symptoms of prostrate cancer. Urine frequency has also been seen as one of the early symptoms of cancer of the urinary bladder.

• Bloody urine or Hematuria: Although this symptom mostly indicates kidney stones or urinary infection, it can also produce as an early symptom of kidney or urinary bladder cancer.

• Hoarseness in the voice: Hoarseness, though generally caused by allergies and respiratory infections, could be an early sign of throat cancer.

• Mole or change in a wart: The sudden occurrence of a mole, especially those with irregular edges and which are multicolored is one of the early symptoms of melanoma or skin cancer.

• Indigestion: In most cases, a chronic heart-burn is simply caused by acidity but if the burn persists despite the antacids, then an endoscopy of the upper GI tract is necessary as this could be one of the early symptoms of cancer of the esophagus. Persistent difficulty in swallowing may also be indicative of the condition.

• Strange vaginal discharges: Unusual bloody discharges between periods or after intercourse or post-menopausal bleeding can be an early symptom of uterus cancer.

• Other general symptoms: Sudden and unexpected weight loss with fever and night sweats, though common to a number of other diseases, could be any early sign of a number of types of cancers. Sores that have not healed for a long time or lasting red or white patches on the tongue or gums could indicate the onset of mouth cancer. Also, persistent headaches and frequent black-outs could be early symptoms of cancer of the brain.