Common Symptoms of Cancer

Cancer is an umbrella term encompassing over a hundred conditions that have a core characteristic in common: abnormal cellular proliferation. The type of cancer is typically named according to the affected organs or tissues.

Listed below are some common signs and symptoms of cancer. It is worth keeping in mind that these can overlap those of other conditions and thus do not necessarily signify cancer. Nonetheless, if you are experiencing them and you notice that they are not going away after several weeks, or you feel something is not quite right, it is important to listen to your body and schedule an appointment to get your symptoms checked out by a medical professional.

General Symptoms of Cancer

  • Cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent and unexplained fever
  • Swelling or lumps anywhere in the body
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Unusual bleeding and/or bruising
  • Widespread pain

Cancer Symptoms According to Body Part or System

A.) Breast

  • Blood or sticky nipple discharge (not breast milk)
  • Breast lump
  • Changes in breast size or shape
  • Dimpling or irritation of breast skin
  • Pain in the nipple area
  • Pitting, swelling, or thickening of skin of the breast (looking or feeling like an orange peel)
  • Redness involving a significant part of the breast

B.) Gastrointestinal System

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Bloody stools
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Decreased appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Jaundice (yellowed skin or eyes)
  • Vomiting with or without blood
  • Persistent abdominal pain after meals
  • Rectal bleeding

C.) Brain

  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Personality or memory changes
  • Seizures
  • Sleep and/or memory problems
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unusual drowsiness

D.) Lung Cancer

  • Bloody or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Chest pain that gets worse with coughing, deep breathing, or laughing.
  • Cough (either getting worse or is not going away)
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness (dysphonia)
  • Unexplained weight loss

E.) Skin

Use this easy mnemonic to know which exact changes are a possible indication of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetry– Half of your birthmark or mole appears inconsistent as the other.
  • Border– Cancerous moles typically have irregular edges.
  • Color– Your mole looks varied: it has different shades of black, brown, or tan.
  • Diameter– Your mole is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving– Your mole has been growing, bleeding, or changing in shape over time.

F.)  Oral Cavity

  • Persistent or nonhealing mouth sores
  • Lump in the cheek
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Red or white patches in the gums, lining of the mouth, or tongue 

G.)  Male Genitourinary System

1.)  Penis

  • Nonhealing ulcers on the penile shaft
  • Reddish, velvety rash on or under the foreskin
  • Small, crusty bumps
  • Smelly discharge
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
  • Wart-like growth or lesion

2.)  Testicles

  • Dull pain or pressure in the groin or lower belly
  • Lump or swelling in one or both of the testicles
  • Pain and a feeling of heaviness in the testicles

3.)  Prostate Gland

  • Bloody semen or urine
  • Pain and stiffness in the back, hips, or upper thighs
  • Pain during ejaculation
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Weak urinary stream

H.)  Female Genitourinary System

1.)  Cervix

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods or after intercourse
  • Heavy, watery or blood-tinged, and foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pain
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse

2.)  Vagina

  • A lump or mass in the vagina
  • Constipation
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Painful and frequent urination
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding and discharge

3.) Uterus

  • Abnormal results from a Pap test
  • Changes in bladder and/or bowel habits
  • Moderate to severe pain in the pelvic area
  • Pain during urination
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, The Medical Group of South Florida encourages you to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. From there, a tissue diagnosis ordered by the primary care provider will determine if your symptoms are cancer-related. If you do not have a primary care physician, please visit our website to establish with one today.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to get an early diagnosis. If you have concerns about a cancer diagnosis, please call (561) 622-6111 and make an appointment to come see Dr. Michael Hall, Radiation Oncologist at The Medical Group of South Florida in Jupiter, Florida. Dr. Michael Hall can help walk you through the various treatment options. Book a consultation with Dr. Hall today!

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