Q. What are some warning signs of cancer to watch out for?
A. Many signs and symptoms of cancer overlap with those of more benign causes. However, there are certain warning signs that may lead a doctor to conduct further investigations.
Cancer is often diagnosed when a person presents persistent symptoms that do not go away even after receiving treatment for common medical conditions.
The warning signs of cancer include:
Unintentional weight loss
This occurs when a person unintentionally loses more than 10 per cent of his or her baseline body weight within six months without dieting or exercising.
Although this symptom is not specific to any type of cancer, unintentional weight loss is commonly associated with advanced stages of the disease.
Blockages of bodily functions
According to the Singapore Cancer Society, a person who has difficulties breathing, swallowing, or experiences severe vomiting after eating may be suffering from cancer of the oesophagus, stomach or throat.
Meanwhile, a change in bowel habits such as constipation for over a week, as well as a distended abdomen may point to obstruction caused by colorectal cancer.
Bleeding between menstrual periods may signal gynaecological cancer while faecal blood may be linked to colorectal cancer.
Lung cancer is often diagnosed when a person coughs up blood. Meanwhile, recurrent nosebleeds may indicate the possibility of nasopharyngeal cancer.
A person whose bone marrow is infiltrated by cancer cells may also bleed or bruise easily.
Abnormal lumps on any part of the body
These irregular growths should be thoroughly examined by a doctor and further investigated when needed.
Lumps are commonly found when a person suffers from cancer of the breast, head, neck, lungs, testicles or skin.
This is far from a complete list of cancer warning signs to look out for. If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, you should approach your doctor for more information.