Cancer is a group of more that 100 different diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells which divide rapidly, uncontrollable and can invade and destroy healthy body tissues. Therefore, there are different types of cancer and they are present in different parts of the body. But, each type of cancer comes with its own specific signs and symptoms.  However, there are general signs and symptoms associated with all cancer types.  These general signs and symptoms are similar to those associated with most other diseases. Having one or more of them does not guarantee you have cancer. However, be vigilant and quickly go for check if you suspect something is not right. Early detection may guarantee treatment and save lives. 

General signs and symptoms associated with most cancer types include: 

  • Persistent and unexplained cough, fever or night sweats
  • Bloody urine, stool, vomit or coughing with blood
  • Difficulties swallowing
  • Feeling unease after eating
  • Observed differences in your digestion pattern
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent lump (area of thickening under the skin) or soar that fails to heal.
  • Unexplained bruises or bleeding
  • Changes in your urination pattern
  • Changes in skin pigmentation such as yellowing, redness or darkening.
  • A birth mark or mole that changes in shape, size or pigmentation.

Are Cancer Symptoms Different for Men and Women?

No. For cancers that affect both men and women, the symptoms are the same. However, symptoms vary when the cancer is gender specific such as ovary and breast in women or prostate and testicular cancer in men.

Cancer symptoms specific to women include:

  • A lump in the breast or armpit
  • Scaling in the nipple which usually extend to the areola
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Ulcer on the breast or nipple (sometimes extending to the areola)
  • Dimpling or puckering on the breast
  • Nipple changes, including the nipple turning inward, pulling to one side or changing direction
  • Pain in the pelvis or abdominal area
  • Vaginal discharge colored with blood
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Cancer symptom specific to men include:

  •  Changes in the size of one or both of your testicles.
  •  Your testicles feel swollen or extra heavy. 
  • Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
  • Difficulties in starting urination.
  • Pain, or burning sensation during urination.
  • Bleeding from the penis or under the foreskin.
  • Thickening of the skin of the penis or foreskin.
  • Smelly discharge.

What Causes Signs Symptoms of cancer?

Cancer cells are abnormal cells which keep dividing rapidly, uncontrollably and invading other healthy cells.  Most cancers exist as an abnormal mass of solid tissue except for certain types of blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma that are liquid in nature. Because cancer cells are continuously and rapidly dividing, they keep growing and use up most of the body’s energy supply. Consequently, symptoms such as fever, fatigue, or weight loss are observed. Also, as cancer divides, it grows into, or begin to push on nearby organs, blood vessels, and nerves. This creates pressure or obstruct the flow of substance through the body. This may results to symptoms such as pain, inflammation, difficulties swallowing and breathing, or persistent cough. 

Other symptoms may occur because the cancer cell secrete substances which either alter the way your body uses energy or trick your immune system and causes it to over react. Because cancer cells are abnormal, certain types of blood cancers or skin cancer may  alter skin pigmentation.

How to Relieve Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Efective management of cancer symptoms greatly improves quality of life at all stages of the disease and can determine the outcome of treatment. Some or all of the symptoms of cancer can be relieved through surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy,  immune therapy, neurosurgery, nerve blocking agents, and pain relieving drugs or analgesics.  Symptoms of cancer can also be relieved through a psychological approach or counselling. 

Palliative surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used to relieve pain, fever, inflammation, obstruction and other symptoms caused by cancer. They do so by strinking or reducing the size of the cancer. This gets rid of any obstruction, or compression to organs and nerves.

Mild to severe pain, fever and inflammation caused by cancer also be relieved using medications. This includes non-opioid drugs such as acetominophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, or opioids such as morphine, fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and methadone. 

cancer related fatigue can also be relieve by eating well and healthy, having enough rest and sleep, by exercising regularly, through counseling and medications.