Don’t overlook these possible symptoms of cancer

September 24, 2019 | by William Broderick, M.D.

We all experience our share of aches and pains from time to time. Whether it’s a nagging cough or a throbbing headache, many times we overlook or downplay certain symptoms because we’re too busy or we think it’s not a big deal.

When it comes to your health, it’s better to play it safe. No one knows your body better than you. If you sense something is wrong or if you notice any changes to your health or symptoms that won’t go away, let your primary care physician know.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a minor issue and the start of something more serious.

Here are some possible symptoms of cancer you should not overlook:

  • Neurological problems. Though headaches are very common and rarely a sign of cancer, if they are more persistent and severe than what you commonly experience, you should talk to your doctor. Other neurological issues that may be associated with cancer are seizures, balance issues, tingling or weakness on one side of the body, and vision or hearing changes.


  • Breast and skin changes. Changes to your skin and breasts can be more recognizable than other changes in your body. Alert your doctor if you discover new moles or moles that change in size, color or shape, or changes to your skin such as a sore that won’t heal. Also, if you notice a lump in your breast or swelling, warmth or redness around your breast, see your doctor.


  • Fatigue and cough. If you find yourself being tired consistently, lacking the energy you usually have, or finding it hard to catch your breath, this is another sign that something isn’t quite right in your body. The same goes for a persistent cough or hoarseness, especially if you have pain in your chest or if you start coughing blood. Note the severity and length of these symptoms when talking to your doctor.


  • Bleeding and bruising. Another symptom to keep an eye out for are bruises that appear on your body for unknown reasons or unexpected bleeding in the stool or urine, as well as any other changes in your bowel or bladder habits.


  • Weight changes and mouth changes. If you experience sudden and rapid weight gain or loss, this can be another sign of cancer. It’s also important to look out for red and white patches in your mouth or trouble swallowing, along with unexpected numbness, pain or bleeding.

It is important to remember that any of these symptoms can be caused by a number of medical reasons. Even if you experience one or any of these, it does not necessarily mean that you have cancer.

However, any new or persistent symptoms can be warning signs your body is trying to give you that something is wrong. Don’t ignore unexpected changes to your health — always keep your doctor in the loop.

Prevention is powerful medicine. At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we provide the latest screening and diagnostic tools to detect cancer early, when it’s most treatable. Learn more about our cancer screenings.

How do you deal with unexpected changes your body? Tell us in the comments below.

Related blogs:

10 symptoms women often ignore but shouldn’t

10 symptoms men often ignore but shouldn’t

Learn more from Healthy Driven Chicago:

Get more from your well-woman checkup

Men: It’s time to own your health

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