5 Unexpected Signs of Cancer

There are some signs that may surprise you

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Trouble swallowing when you don’t have pain or discomfort may be a sign of esophageal cancer, according to medical experts.

A suspicious lump, pain in a specific area of your body, extreme fatigue or unexpected weight loss — these are symptoms typically associated with cancer. Sometimes, however, there are more subtle signs that may not set off alarm bells.

Most of the time these subtle symptoms could be caused by other more benign conditions, but J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society (ACS), says they still are worth sharing with your doctor, even if they turn out to be nothing. “Of all the visits [a doctor receives], only an extremely small fraction result in a diagnosis of cancer,” Lichtenfeld said.

Among symptoms to treat seriously:

Hoarseness

If hoarseness in your voice doesn’t go away after two weeks, it can be cause for concern — especially if you have not had a cold. Hoarseness can be a sign of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers, according to the ACS, because the vocal chords are affected by the cancer. Other signs include a sore throat and constant coughing.

Trouble swallowing

Trouble swallowing, even without pain or discomfort, may be a sign of esophageal cancer, Lichtenfeld said. The growing cancer causes the opening inside the esophagus to get smaller over time, causing a feeling of choking while eating. Often people will start “going from a solid diet, like steak and potatoes, and changing it over time to more liquids, more soups” without even really thinking about it, he added.

Droopy eyelids and pupil changes

Cancers of the upper part of the lungs are sometimes called Pancoast tumors, according to the ACS, and they can affect certain nerves to the eye and part of the face. The tumors create a condition called Horner syndrome, and ACS reports the symptoms as:

  • The appearance of drooping or weakness on one eyelid.
  • The appearance of a smaller pupil or dark part in the center of the eye.
  • Feeling reduced or absent sweating on the same side of your face.

Blood in your stool or urine

Blood in your stool is sometimes a result of hemorrhoids, but it can also be a sign of colon cancer. Blood in your urine is a potential sign of kidney or bladder cancer.

It’s also wise to track the color of your urine, Lichtenfeld said. Dark brown urine may be a sign of pancreatic cancer and should be addressed immediately. Difficulty urinating can also be a sign of prostate cancer for men.

Abdominal bloating

In women, swelling of the abdominal area, when combined with pain, can be a sign of ovarian cancer.

“We know our bodies best, we live with them all day,” Lichtenfeld said. But don’t try to be your own diagnostician: See a health professional and don’t be afraid to ask questions. “Don’t worry about a clinician looking down their nose when you ask.” The doctor may end up smiling and saying “don’t worry about it,” but it is still worth checking

 

 

 

 

Cancer Prevention

Cancer is the general term for more than 100 diseases according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Although cancers can be found in different places throughout the body, they all begin with abnormal cell growth. Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body grow out of control. These cells multiply and invade into surrounding tissue, something normal cells don’t do. Cancer cells are sometimes inherited (for instance, someone who has a parent with cancer has a greater chance of cancer himself) but more often, a cancer cell is caused by something in the environment, such as cigarette smoking or sun exposure. Left untreated, cancer can cause serious illness and, in most cases, death.

To reduce your risk of cancer don’t smoke, limit sun exposure, be physically active, and eat healthy. There are also screening tests and exams for some types of cancers which can find an abnormality early and before it spreads. In general, the earlier cancer is found, the greater the chance for survival.

The ACS states nearly half of all men and a third of all women in the United States will develop cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, early detection and treatment of cancer has resulted in more cancer survivors. Ask your doctor what screenings and exams you should have and how often you should get them.

One in eight women will get breast cancer.

Male Breast Cancer

Although they generally have less of it, men have breast tissue just like women do. So, men can get breast cancer too. However, it’s much rarer. According to the ACS, breast cancer is 100 times less common in men than in women.

That said, the breast cancer that men get is just as serious as the breast cancer women get. It also has the same symptoms.

Symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those in women. Most male breast cancers are diagnosed when a man discovers a lump on his chest. But unlike women, men tend to delay going to the doctor until they have more severe symptoms, like bleeding from the nipple. At that point the cancer may have already spread.

Read more about breast cancer in men and the symptoms to watch for.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month-THINK PINK!

Breast cancer overview

Cancer occurs when changes called mutations take place in genes that regulate cell growth. The mutations let the cells divide and multiply in an uncontrolled, chaotic way. The cells keep multiplying, producing copies that get progressively more abnormal. In most cases, the cell copies eventually form a tumor.

Breast cancer is cancer that develops in breast cells. Typically, the cancer forms in either the lobules or the ducts of the breast. Lobules are the glands that produce milk, and ducts are the pathways that bring the milk from the glands to the nipple. Cancer can also occur in the fatty tissue or the fibrous connective tissue within your breast.

The uncontrolled cancer cells often invade other healthy breast tissue and can travel to the lymph nodes under the arms. The lymph nodes are a primary pathway that helps the cancer cells move to other parts of the body. See pictures and learn more about the structure of the breast.

How common is breast cancer?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. And according to statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS), nearly 232,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2015. Invasive breast cancer is cancer that has spread from the ducts or glands to other parts of the breast. More than 40,000 women were expected to die from the disease.

Breast cancer can also be diagnosed in men. The ACS also estimated that in 2015, more than 2,000 men would be diagnosed, and more than 400 men would die from the disease. Find out more about breast cancer numbers around the world.

Types of breast cancer

There are several types of breast cancer, which are broken into two main categories: “invasive” (as mentioned above), and “noninvasive,” or in situ. While invasive cancer has spread from the breast ducts or glands to other parts of the breast, noninvasive cancer has not spread from the original tissue.

These two categories are used to describe the most common types of breast cancer, which include:

Ductal carcinoma in situ. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a noninvasive condition. With DCIS, the cells that line the ducts in your breast change and look cancerous. However, DCIS cells haven’t invaded the surrounding breast tissue.

Lobular carcinoma in situ. Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is cancer that grows in the milk-producing glands of your breast. Like DCIS, the cancer cells haven’t yet invaded the surrounding tissue.

Invasive ductal carcinoma. Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer begins in your breast’s milk ducts and then invades nearby tissue in the breast. Once the breast cancer has spread to the tissue outside your milk ducts, it can begin to spread to other nearby organs and tissue.

Invasive lobular carcinoma. Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) first develops in your breast’s lobules. If breast cancer is diagnosed as ILC, it has already spread to nearby tissue and organs.

Other, less common types of breast cancer include:

Paget disease of the nipple. This type of breast cancer begins in the breasts’ ducts, but as it grows, it begins to affect the skin and areola of the nipple.

Phyllodes tumor. This very rare type of breast cancer grows in the connective tissue of the breast.

Angiosarcoma. This is cancer that grows on the blood vessels or lymph vessels in the breast.

The type of cancer you have determines your treatment options, as well as your prognosis (likely long-term outcome). Learn more about types of breast cancer.

Risk factors for breast cancer

There are several risk factors that increase your chances of getting breast cancer. However, having any of these doesn’t mean you will definitely develop the disease.

Some risk factors can’t be avoided, such as family history. Other risk factors, such as smoking, you can change. Risk factors for breast cancer include:

Age. Your risk for developing breast cancer increases as you age. Most invasive breast cancers are found in women over age 55.

Drinking alcohol. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol raises your risk.

Having dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue makes mammograms hard to read. It also increases your risk of breast cancer.

Gender. Women are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than men.

Genes. Women who have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are more likely to develop breast cancer than women who don’t. Other gene mutations may also affect your risk.

Early menstruation. If you had your first period before age 12, you have an increased risk for breast cancer.

Giving birth at an older age. Women who don’t have their first child until after age 35 have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Hormone therapy. Women who took or are taking postmenopausal estrogen and progesterone medications to reduce their signs of menopause symptoms have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Inherited risk. If a close female relative has had breast cancer, you have an increased risk for developing it. This includes your mother, grandmother, sister, or daughter. If you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, you can still develop breast cancer. In fact, the majority of women who develop it have no family history of the disease.

Late menopause start. Women who do not start menopause until after age 55 are more likely to develop breast cancer.

Never being pregnant. Women who never became pregnant or never carried a pregnancy to full-term are more likely to develop breast cancer.

Previous breast cancer. If you have had breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer in your other breast or in a different area of the previously affected breast.

SYMPTOMS

Breast cancer symptoms

In its early stages, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. In many cases, a tumor may be too small to be felt, but an abnormality can still be seen on a mammogram. If a tumor can be felt, the first sign is usually a new lump in the breast that was not there before. However, not all lumps are cancer.

Each type of breast cancer can cause a variety of symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar, but some can be different. Symptoms for the most common breast cancers include:

a breast lump or tissue thickening that feels different than surrounding tissue and has developed recently

breast pain

red, pitted skin over your entire breast

swelling in all or part of your breast

a nipple discharge other than breast milk

bloody discharge from your nipple

peeling, scaling, or flaking of skin on your nipple or breast

a sudden, unexplained change in the shape or size of your breast

inverted nipple

changes to the appearance of the skin on your breasts

a lump or swelling under your arm

If you have any of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. For instance, pain in your breast or a breast lump can be caused by a breast cyst. Still, if you find a lump in your breast or have other symptoms, you should see your doctor for further examination and testing. Learn more about possible symptoms of breast cancer.

There are over 120 types of Cancer

Cancer-Ribbons

Types of Cancer

Cancer.Net  offers individualized guides for more than 120 types of cancer and related hereditary syndromes. Each guide provides comprehensive, oncologist-approved information on: Overview, Medical Illustrations, Risk Factors, Prevention, Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis, Stages, Treatment Options, About Clinical Trials, Coping with Side Effects, After Treatment, Latest Research, Questions to Ask the Doctor, and Additional Resources

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) believes that all treatment decisions should be made between patients and their doctors.

Learn more about the different Cancers.

Learn more about Cancer treatment.

World Cancer Day

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