Cancer. The very word conjures up visions of pain and suffering. If any disease has made itself an enemy of man, it is this one. Cancer may come in many forms but its outcome has always been damaging. The medical fraternity counts cancer as its greatest foe.

Dr. Meenu Gupta

Cancer Symptoms

Cancer is the second most common cause of death after heart disease. However, cancer is completely curable if detected early. Though cancer has no fixed / compulsory symptoms, if you have any of the following cancer symptoms, you should visit a doctor:
  • Non healing Ulcers in mouth
  • Persistent cough or blood-tinged sputum
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Blood in stool
  • Unexplained anemia
  • Breast lump or nipple discharge
  • Hard Swelling in the testicles
  • Blood in the urine
  • Persistent Hoarseness of voice
  • Persistent lumps or swollen glands
  • Obvious change in a wart or a mole
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Unexpected weight loss, night sweats, or fever
  • Continued itching in your anus or genitals
  • Non-healing sores
Most of the times, cancer arises from the oral cavity. You may see small ulcers coming up in the mouth, on the tongue, inside the cheeks or lips. If the ulcer is growing in size and if it is not healing in a week or two weeks time, it could be the beginning of cancer. Some ulcers caused by a sharp tooth called traumatic ulcers, would lead to malignancies.
Sometimes, white patches come up within the mouth. These white patches, called leukoplakia, and also some times with reddening (erythropoietic leukoplakia) can be precancerous lesions. These are early signs and symptoms of cancer.
Causes of this type of cancer mostly could be tobacco consumption. Quitting this habit will heal the lesions and an impending cancer could be prevented. The condition can be reverted to normal mucosa.
Coming to the throat, hoarseness of voice is a common symptom of throat cancer. The voice becomes hoarse with common cold or cough. But if the hoarseness persists even after the cold is gone, you need to consult a doctor. This could be an early symptom of throat or lung cancer.
Another symptom of throat cancer is difficulty in swallowing food. If you have this problem for an unusually long period of time, say 3-4 weeks, you can suspect it to be a sign of throat or esophageal cancer also called food pipe cancer.
An endoscopy examination should be done to check if there is any tumour within the throat or food pipe.
Common symptom of a lung cancer is cough. A common cold or pneumonia can also cause cough. But if the cough is not going with antibiotic / standard treatment and persists beyond 2 weeks or so, you have to suspect it to be a cancer symptom. A plain chest X-ray can detect if you have any cancer in the lungs.
Most people now a days are suffering from some kind of acidity or flatulence. If the problem persists for a long time, you should get an endoscopy or colonoscopy done to rule out any cancer in the abdomen. Also an ultrasound of the abdomen is helpful to diagnose any early stage of cancer.
Cancer also shows up in the form of blood in stools. Generally, piles or haemorrhoids can cause bleeding in stool but it can be a cancer symptom as well. You need to get it investigated to rule out a cancer in the abdomen or rectum.
Cancer Symptoms in Women
Abnormal Bleeding or discharge per Vagina, post coital / post menopausal between menses / lump in breast.