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Cancer – Symptoms

March 11, 2021


"Cancer is not one disease. It's hundreds of different diseases that share the underlying thread of uncontrolled cell growth. So the symptoms depend on which organ has the cancer, where it's located and what might happen if a growth occurs in that organ. But there are some symptoms that shouldn't be ignored. Generally speaking, blood in various body fluids where blood usually isn't present should not be ignored. So for example, a persistent cough with bloody sputum should not be ignored. Bloody vaginal discharge that's not associated with the menstrual cycle is a symptom that shouldn't be ignored. Blood in the urine or blood in the stool are other common examples. Generally speaking, also accessible parts of your body, you should periodically examine. Your skin is visible to you and you can examine for changing moles that look suspicious. Men should perform periodic testicular self-examination, is another example. If you feel a lump in a part of your body where nothing used to exist, and this is changing, that's something you should alert your doctor to. At stage four, which means metastatic cancer, the highest stage, all cancers do start to share some hallmark symptoms. This might include weight loss where you're not trying to deliberately lose weight, or overwhelming fatigue. Another set of symptoms that all cancers might share at stage four are overwhelming sense of nausea or loss of appetite. So to recap, there is no one symptom that means a patient has cancer. Because cancers really are hundreds of different diseases, each causing its own set of symptoms. This highlights the fact of why screening is so important, because generally speaking, when cancers are curable, they may not cause any symptoms at all. Ideally that's when we'd like to find cancers. So we have the best chance of curing them."

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