Cancer - Symptoms

Cancer is a progressive disease. That is, it goes through a series of stages that are progressively worse. The symptoms are different at each stage. One of the earliest symptoms of cancer is pain. As tumors grow, they push on organs, nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues around them, causing pain.

The earlier cancer is detected, the more effectively it can be treated. For this reason, the American Cancer Society has prepared a list of seven warning signs of cancer. They are:

  • Change in the size, color, or shape of a wart or mole
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Persistent cough, hoarseness, or sore throat
  • A lump or thickening in the breast or elsewhere
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge (release of fluids)
  • Chronic indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  • Any change in bowel or bladder habits

Diseases other than cancer can also produce these symptoms, so the symptoms need to be checked as soon as possible. Many forms of cancer have no early warning signs at all. For that reason, regular medical tests may be important. For example, women should check their own breasts regularly and should have regular mammograms (X rays of the breasts).

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