Cancer 101: What Are the Warning Signs of Cancer?


It doesn’t matter how much or how little knowledge you have of the medical field. Everyone knows what cancer is, and it’s something we all fear to some degree. That’s why it can be comforting to know the symptoms: it gives you more of a feeling of control.

Of course, there are many different forms of cancer and they all come with their own symptoms. Still, there are certain symptoms that appear more often than others.

What are the warning signs of cancer? Start with this list.

1. Unexpected Weight Loss

If you are like the many Americans who are overweight and would prefer not to be, this may not seem like a bad symptom at first. It isn’t unusual to drop small amounts of weight quickly, for example as the result of releasing water you had been retaining.

The time to be concerned is if your weight loss continues for several weeks and you haven’t changed your lifestyle habits. This can be a sign of cancer or of a wide range of other conditions and changes.

2. Swollen Glands or Other Unusual Lumps

One of the most well-known warning signs for breast cancer is a lump in the breast. However, this is not the only lump to watch for.

You have lymph nodes in areas like your armpits, your groin, and your jaw. When you have an illness or infection, those lymph nodes help your body get rid of the waste from fighting the infection. They become swollen because they gather bacteria and other materials.

It is normal for your lymph nodes to be swollen and tender on occasion. If this lasts for more than three weeks, though, it could be a sign of cancer.

The same goes for any other lump throughout your body. If a lump develops and you don’t know what it is, regardless of whether it is tender, it’s best to have a doctor examine it.

3. Persistent Coughing

Many people think lung cancer only occurs in people who smoke. If they aren’t a smoker, then, they don’t pay attention to an ongoing cough because they don’t believe it could be cancer.

In reality, anyone can get lung cancer. If you have a cough that lasts for more than a few weeks, you should see a doctor no matter what your health habits are. That cough could signal cancer in your lungs or anywhere along your respiratory tract.

While this is true for any persistent cough, it’s especially important to see a doctor if you also have blood in your saliva or phlegm.

4. Unexpected Breast Discharge

While most people think of a breast lump as the tell-tale sign of breast cancer, that isn’t the full picture. Not only are most breast lumps benign, but there are other potential warning signs you don’t want to ignore.

One symptom to watch for is unexpected breast discharge. For example, if you have discharge and you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, it may be a cause for concerned.

Pay special attention to whether the discharge comes from one breast or both breasts. If both breasts have discharge, it may be more likely to be a hormonal issue or another condition. It is still better to be on the safe side and see a doctor, though.

You should also make note of the discharge itself. If there appears to be blood in it, make it a priority to visit a doctor.

5. Changes in Bathroom Activity

While many of us pay little attention to the details of our habits going to the bathroom, it’s important to notice if there are sudden changes.

For example, blood in your urine or your stool is always something you should have a doctor examine. While most cases of this are caused by a simple infection, hemorrhoids, or other minor issues, they may also signal cancer.

You should also note whether your stool has changed its shape. If you repeatedly have extremely narrow stool, for example, or if you have persistent diarrhea, it can be a warning sign.

Changes in your urination could give you clues as well. Pay attention to any changes in your urines flow and the amount of urine, as well as the urine’s flow.

Any of these changes could signal one of many potential cancers in the urinary or digestive systems, as well as prostate cancer in men. 

What to Do If You Have Cancer Symptoms

One of the tricky aspects of cancer is that it is so varied and can look so different in different people. However, the signs and symptoms above can give you your first clues.

If you spot any of these warning signs, what do you do? 

1. Get an Evaluation

If you have any signs of cancer or other illnesses for that matter, your first step is to see a doctor. The only way to truly know about your health is to complete medical testing.

Your general practitioner is a good place to start. They may be able to rule out cancer on their own, putting your mind at ease. Otherwise, they’ll be able to refer you to the right specialist to do more detailed testing.

As important as it is to get your symptoms examined, there is no need to panic. All the symptoms above are more likely to be caused by other conditions than by cancer. Chances are that any illness you have is minor, but if cancer does appear, early detection is your best action.

2. Ease Your Symptoms

When you visit your doctor for an exam, you can also discuss ways to ease your symptoms if they are uncomfortable. Make sure you ask your doctor before trying any remedies or medications to ensure they won’t interfere with your testing.

Your doctor can guide you through your options, regardless of your health. On option that is becoming popular is CBD for cancer symptoms, as this article explores. 

What Are the Warning Signs of Cancer? Now You Know

When it comes to your health, knowledge is both a gift and a curse.

On the one hand, knowing the answers to questions like “what are the warning signs of cancer” lets you know what to look for. At the same time, don’t always convince yourself of the worst-case scenario. Just think positive and go to your doctor to find out the facts.

If you want to learn more about how to protect your health, check out more health articles right here on our blog.