Step 1: Cancer Symptoms & Signs

Cancer Signs and Symptoms // www.spottingcancer.org

SIGNS are changes that can be seen by you or others.(9)

SYMPTOMS are changes that you feel.(9)

Below is a broad spectrum of important signs and symptoms common to a variety of illnesses, diseases, and cancers. Knowing them is necessary in order to monitor your body for early detection of any cancer or other abnormalities. The appearance of a sign or the feeling of a symptom varies for each person. Therefore, it is essential for you to know your body and establish what is  your normal.

The list is NOT provided as a diagnostic evaluation, advice, or medical determination, but rather for information and awareness of potential health issues to be discussed with your medical team.  If you are experiencing a symptom or seeing a suspicious sign, please consider it a “red flag”. It does not necessarily mean that it is cancer; it can be one of many other diseases. DO NOT ignore the finding. Detecting a sign or symptom early is only valuable if it leads to a timely medical evaluation and treatment, if necessary.  CONSULT YOUR MEDICAL TEAM IMMEDIATELY.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

BLEEDING / DISCHARGE / BRUISING

blood cancer sign // www.spottingcancer.org

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Bleeding from nipples (10)
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (11)
  • Bleeding after intercourse (12)
  • Post-menopause bleeding (13)
  • Blood appears when coughing (14)
  • Bleeding from a mole or scab without scratching (15)
  • Blood clots/chips in urine (16)
  • Blood discharge from the penis (17)
  • Blood in the semen following ejaculation (18)
  • Blood appears when vomiting or spitting up (19)
  • Frequent nosebleeds (20)
  • Unexplained bruises, black, and blue marks (21)
  • Extended or irregular heavy periods of bleeding (12)

BREAST CHANGES (MEN & WOMEN)

male and female breast changes

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Nipple tenderness (10)
  • Lumps no matter how small (22)
  • Inflammation and a warm feeling (23)
  • Skin texture changes like thickening, hardening, or looking like an orange peel (10)
  • Nipple changes that include sinking, a rash, newly Inverted, redness, scaling, or flaking (10)
  • Persistent pain in breast or under armpit (23)
  • Breast tissue dimples or wrinkles when stretching arms or flexing chest muscles (23)
  • Nipple discharge or bleeding (10)
  • Breast or nipple changes in size or shape, larger or smaller, especially if one-sided (22)
  • Cracked, dry nipple without breastfeeding (22)

 CHANGES IN FINGER AND TOE NAILS

Finger Nails Cancer Signs & Symptoms // www.spottingcancer.com

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Bleeding nails (24)
  • Infected, swelling, or redness around nail (24)
  • Nails that are pitted (24)
  • Ridges and/or bumps under a nail (25)
  • Enlargement at the end of a finger, with nail curved down (24)
  • Any unexplained changes to nails, such as weakness, brittleness, thickening, or a change in shape (26)
  • A black-brown vertical stripe or white dots on top of the nail (26)
  • Yellow, white, or discolored nails (24)
  • Pigmentation changes by the cuticles (25)
  • Rounding of the nail beds and fingertips and increased thickness of skin at the fingertips (Finger clubbing) (24)
  • Washboard like series of depressions on thumbnail (27)

CHRONIC FATIGUE/WEAKNESS

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Feeling exhausted after getting extensive sleep (28)
  • You have no energy, the entire body feels fatigued and weak (29)
  • Inability to participate in normal activities, work, or social life (28)
  • Having the need to nap constantly (30)
  • Arms and Legs feel heavy and hard to move (28)

CONTINUOUS SWELLING/BLOATING

continuous swelling bloating cancer symptoms and signs

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Bloated, hard, or puffy belly  (Abdomen) that does not go away with a change in diet or after bowel movement (31)
  • Swelling in the legs and arms that are hot feeling or have redness (28)
  • Face, throat, and neck swelling (32)
  • Swelling near a joint – rings too tight for fingers (33)
  • Regurgitating food (14)
  • Subtle tickle, scratch, or burning in throat (14)
  • Abdominal discomfort- cramps, gas, or pain (63)

COUGH/WHEEZING/OUT OF BREATH

coughing-spotting-cancer-signs-and-symptoms

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • A persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks (34)
  • Breathless feeling when you walk a short distance (e.g. crossing the street) (11)
  • Sharp, persistent pain in chest, back, or shoulder when coughing (11)
  • Breathless feeling comes on suddenly during, activities or even when lying down (11)
  • Painful feeling when taking a deep breath (12)
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (14)
  • Respiratory infections that come back (12)

EAR CHANGES

ear cancer symptoms and signs

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Scaly patches (36)
  • White lumps under skin in middle ear (37)
  • Discharge from ear (37)
  • Hearing loss (38)
  • Earache (36)
  • Ringing in ear (38)

EYE CHANGES

eye changes cancer signs and symptoms

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Changes in the way eye moves in socket (39)
  • Changes in size or shape of pupil (39)
  • Floats in eye (39)
  • Growths on the eyelid or on the surface of the eye (39)
  • Bulging of the eye (39)
  • Excessive tearing (39)
  • Sudden onset of double vision or pain around the eye (40)
  • Dark or flesh-like spots on the iris of the eye (instead of colored or white part of the eye) (40)
  • Yellowing eye (9)
  • Shadow, flashes of light, wiggly lines or blurred vision (40)

HEAVY NIGHT SWEATS

night-sweats-cancer-symptom

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Frequently drenched nightwear and sheets after waking from sleep (41)

INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN

Senior Man With Stomachache - Isolated

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Frequent upset stomach (42)
  • Frequent bouts of burning sensation in upper abdomen or a feeling of stomach acid (42)
  • Uncomfortable fullness after a meal (43)

LOW GRADE FEVER

temperature self-exam

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Consistent temperature above 100.4ºF (38ºC) for more than two weeks (32)

 

LYMPH NODES

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Painless enlargement or lump in the head or neck, armpit, groin, or backs of knees… especially if there has been NO infection. (44)

 

NON-STOP ITCHING

non-stop itching cancer signs and symptoms

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Intense itching not relieved with lotions or antihistamines (45)
  • Itching after a warm bath or hot shower (46)
  • Uncontrollable itching, especially at night for no apparent reason (47)

ORAL (MOUTH, TONGUE & THROAT)

Changes in Mouth - Cancer Signs & Symptoms

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness in mouth or lips (48)
  • Patch, spot, painful sore (ulceration), or a bump, growth in the mouth or throat that will not go away (2 weeks) (48)
  • Patches and spots that are red, white, or mixed color that sometimes can be painful (48)
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, moving tongue, or jaw (48)
  • A persistent swelling of one side of the neck
  • Changes in how teeth line up when your mouth closed (48)
  • Trouble opening mouth (38)
  • Excess saliva (14)

SCROTUM/TESTICLE CHANGES

testical-changes-cancer-signs-and-symptoms

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Lump or swelling in either testicle that is usually not painful (49)
  • Unexpected firmness of the testicle (49)
  • Enlargement of a testicle or scrotum (49)
  • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum (49)
  • Dull ache in the lower abdomen or in the groin (49)
  • Sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum (49)
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum (49)
  • Erection difficulty, decrease in ejaculation fluid, or pain (49)

SEVERE HEADACHE

severe-headache-spotting-cancer

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Pain when coughing, exercising, getting up, or moving (50)
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness (51)
  • Headache continues after taking over-the-counter medicine for more than two weeks (50)
  • Headaches are more intense than normal (38)
  • Mental state change- Memory loss or confusion (50)
  • Mood changes (50)

SKIN CHANGES

lumps on skin cancer signs and symptoms

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Check your moles, freckles, birthmarks, and other body markings for any ABCDE changes. (15)
    • A – Asymmetrical: two halves of mole differ
    • B – Border: rough uneven edges
    • C – Color: multiple colors in the same patch or mole
    • D – Diameter: larger than a pencil eraser (1/4 inches or 6 millimeters)
    • E – Evolving: any new symptoms, including bleeding, itching, or crusting
  • Skin color becomes darker, ashy, yellowish, or pale (9)
  • Excessive hair growth (9)
  • Red, itchy skin (52)
  • Sudden bleeding around moles blemishes (52)
  • Thickening or hardening of skin (53)
  • Blisters on face (54)
  • Unexplained bruising or bright red spots appear (15)
  • Scratch, skin ulcer, or mole with bleeding, crusts, or scabs not healing that ooze or do not heal (52)
  • Sores or skin changes on the penis or vagina (55)
  • Uneven texture and fatty under skin (56)
  • Large mole (52)

SWALLOWING ISSUES/HOARSENESS

trouble swallowing cancer signs and symptoms // www.spottingcancer.org

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Pain when swallowing food (57)
  • Hoarseness with a husky or low voice that lasts more than two weeks (14)
  • Feeling like something is pressing on your throat or stuck in your windpipe
  • Pain in the tongue or jaw
  • Voice pitch change in adults lasting more than 2 weeks (58)
  • Throat pain (14)

THYROID GLAND

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Bulging or protrusion of thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located just below the “Adam’s” apple. (59)

TUMOR/LUMP/MASS/BUMP

lump mass tumor spotting cancer

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Any growth on the body, especially in or on the breast, nipple, stomach, armpit, groin, or neck
  • Change in size of an existing lump or swelling
  • Sudden or unexplained bulges in your body
  • Swelling or enlargement of a testicle
  • A mass on the left side of stomach
  • Enlarged spleen either under or to the left of ribs
  • Lumps under skin

UNEXPLAINED FALLS

falling-down-spotting-cancer

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Tendency to trip easily
  • Loss of balance
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Trouble walking

UNEXPLAINED PAIN

Pain in a man's body

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal, facial, or groin pain (38)
  • Pain in the joints and bones (feels almost like a broken bone) (32)
  • Inconsistent pain in shoulder, lower back, or chest (11)
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain when coughing
  • Pain under either side of rib cage
  • Pain behind the breast bone
  • Stomach cramps,gas, or pains
  • Tenderness or pain in back of the lower leg(s) or when flexing toes upward

UNEXPLAINED WEIGHT CHANGES #17, #8, #23

weight-gain-or-loss-cancer-signs-and-symptoms

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Unexpected loss  of about 10 pounds (5 kilograms) or 10% of your weight within 2 months (60)
  • Unexplained weight gain, especially when associated with bloating (60)

URINE OR STOOL CHANGES

urine-or-stool-changes-spotting-cancer

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Any change to your normal pattern of urine or bowel movement (61)
  • Blood in stool or urine (61)
  • Repeated and frequent diarrhea or constipation for no apparent reason (61)
  • Frequent, constantly urgent feeling or need to go to the bathroom (stool or urine)
  • Not feeling totally empty after urinating or having a bowel movement (61)
  • Pain or difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement (61)
  • Changes in the size, shape, or color of the stool (62)
  • Black, dark, or red stool (9)
  • Changes in urine flow
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urine color changes to a tea color or has red chips
  • Pale or smelly stool
  • Fatty coating over stool
  • Loss of bladder control

Proceed to Step 2 in the Spotting Cancer Program:  

Self-Examination Procedures

 

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