The go-to symptoms for cancer are lumps, sudden weight loss or unexplained tiredness but there are in fact a slew of other symptoms that often go unregistered. Here are 10 of the more sly symptoms, and it is also important to remember that if you find anything unusual that doesn’t go away after a few weeks, get it checked out.
Often put down to just a common cold, this can indicate “an early, curable head or neck cancer such as one of the vocal cords,” says clinical oncologist Dr David Bloomfield. Make sure to be certain it’s just a cold, and if it persists then definitely get it checked out.
2. Sweating during the night
Obviously if it’s summer that may be the cause of night sweats, as menopause can be in women, but it could also be an early sign of lymphoma. Dr Shankara Paneesha, consultant haematologist in Birmingham, spoke to The Telegraph: “People with lymphoma have high metabolisms because lymphoma cells use a lot of energy, so they get severe, drenching night sweats where they need to change their pyjamas and sometimes the bedding.”
Heartburn is often the result of a particularly spicy or fatty meal, but if it lasts for more than two or three weeks and forces the regular use of antacid medicine, it could be a sign of stomach or oesophageal cancer. It can sometimes be linked to ovarian or pancreatic cancer as well.
Often this is purely musculoskeletal issue, but it can also link to pancreatic cancer. If regular trips to the osteopath aren’t helping, and you’re experiencing a lack of appetite and subsequent weight loss, and tiredness to boot, get yourself checked out.
5. Post-menopausal bleeding
Any kind of bleeding after menopause should be checked out as it can link to endometrial cancer. Endometrial cancer can also link to being overweight.
6. Trouble urinating
This is linked to the prostate. As men age, the prostate grows and increases the need to urinate, especially at night. Difficulty passing urine or needing to go noticeably more often can both indicate prostate cancer.
Difficulty swallowing can be a warning bell for both strokes as well as an early symptom of a head and neck cancer such as of the vocal cords, oesophagus, mouth or tongue. Most commonly found in those who smoke and drink regularly, other symptoms can include pain at the back of the mouth.
8. Blood in stools
It might sound gross, but if your faeces start showing blood or changes in colour, frequency or pain, it’s probably best to go and get your bowels checked. Bowel, ovarian and pancreatic cancer are all linked to changes in waste.
9. Skin lesions
This is a common one but still all-too-overlooked. A mole that becomes itchy or bloody, as well as lumps of skin that continue to grow or ulcers that won’t heal are all signs of skin cancer.
10. Mouth ulcers
Mouth ulcers are typically from viral infections and clear up within a few days. However, if an ulcer lasts more than a week or two, and may or may not be painful, it could indicate cancer. Also look for white marks on the tongue or thick, white patches. These need to be checked by your GP as they indicate changes to the mouth’s lining which could lead to cancer.