What does ‘caution’ stand for?
Change in bowel or bladder: If you have been experiencing healthy and regular bowel movements but have begun to experience a sudden or gradual shift in this routine; be it the frequency, constipation, diarrhoea, change in shape or colour, bloody stools and rectal bleeding, these could be signs of cancer.
These are often signs of colorectal cancer or even cancer of the large intestine.
A lesion that does not heal: Lesions or sores that do not heal for over three months are considered as chronic wounds. Red nodules, rough and scaly patches often accompanied with bleeding are signs of skin cancer.
These might also include growths or lumps and development of crusts. Lesions caused due to constant trauma on a certain area must not be neglected too.
For example, ‘sari cancer’ that occurs on the waistline caused by pigmentation and scaling of the skin caused by persistent pressure at a single point when the sari is draped
Unusual bleeding or discharge: The most common is bleeding from the breasts, indicating breast cancer. Breast cancer is not limited to women alone; 1% of breast cancer cases reflect amongst men, they should be careful too. Unusual bleeding or discharge from the bladder, vagina or rectum are signs of colorectal, cervical or prostate cancer and must not be neglected.
Thickening or lump in breasts or elsewhere: Lumps in breasts or the testicles point to breast and testicular cancer. However, not all lumps may be cancerous. People are often misguided that a lump if painless might be malignant; however, both painless and painful lumps are a cause of concern.
Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing: If you find it constantly difficulty to swallow, or have a jammed feeling in your throat and constant bouts of indigestion, be sure to visit a specialist. These are signs of mouth, esophageal, stomach or throat cancer.
Obvious changes in warts or moles: Moles that change in colour, size and appearance must be shown to a specialist immediately. This symptomatic change is an indication of skin cancer.
Nagging cough or persistent hoarseness: Hoarseness in your voice can be caused by a number of reasons; if persistent or if its stops and reappears for at least four weeks thus developing a pattern, help must be sought. This could be an indicator of lung or throat cancer.
These are the main indicators or symptoms that point out towards cancer. Be sure to seek expert advice if any of these persists. Remember, early diagnosis is key. Some of the other constant symptoms one should not ignore include:
- Vomiting or coughing up blood
- Continuous and persistent headaches
- Severe pain in bones
- Chronic fatigue and nausea
The author is the Head of Surgical Oncology at Fortis Hospital, Mulund