By Dr. Dale D Rodrigues, Surgical Oncology
Cancer has been regarded as one of the most deadly diseases. It is a non-communicable chronic disorder, caused by uncontrolled growth of cells in the human body. Every year over 7 million people succumb to this disease globally and over 12 million people are diagnosed with cancer. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), estimated that India will observe over 8 lakh deaths and over 17 lakh new cancer cases annually by the year 2020. The survival expectancy of a cancer patient depends upon the stage of diagnosis.
There are some forms of cancer which show any noticeable symptoms only in the final stage while there are certain other subtle symptoms which if paid attention to might save a life. Some common signs of cancer:
- Unexplained weight loss: This is one of the earliest noticeable symptoms of cancer and is particularly common in patients of lung and breast cancer. Weight loss has been observed in over 40% of cancer patients at the time of diagnosis. Losing over 10% of body weight in a span of 6 months or less could be a cause of concern.
- Wheezing: This is associated with lung cancer, which is also the most common form of cancer. When the airway in the lungs is pressed or narrowed by a tumor, it creates a wheezing sound while breathing.
- Frequent infections: Frequent infections and fever may indicate that something is not right with the internal organs of the body. This could be because of cancerous conditions such as leukemia or lymphoma.
- Loss of appetite: Cancer impacts the metabolic process of the body, hence often leads to a loss of appetite. This is particularly a symptom of colon, stomach, ovaries and pancreatic cancer.
- Blood in stool/urine: Traces of blood while passing stool or urine could be a symptom of cancer. Though, this could be attributed to many other infections and conditions as well.
- Chronic cough: Flu and cough along with symptoms like chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss and fatigue could be because of lung cancer.
- Night sweats: Though night sweat could be attributed to many more reasons, it is also one of the many early warning signs of cancer.
Cancer symptoms specific to men:
- Blood in semen
- Pain during ejaculation
- Lump in testicles
Cancer symptoms specific to women:
- Lump in the breast
- Lump under arm
- Bleeding after menopause or in between periods
Early detection is the key to success in your fight against cancer. So, if you witness any of the above symptoms get yourself diagnosed at the earliest.