Special Report

20 Common Cancer Symptoms to Catch Early

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Pelvic pain
> Commonly associated cancers: Gynecologic cancer, bladder cancer

Bladder cancer is one of the most common urological cancers, almost all of which are more common in men, Luckenbaugh explained. Pelvic pain may be a sign of bladder cancer when it’s advanced. When the tumor is too big it may block the kidneys causing back pain, Luckenbaugh added. Pelvic pain may also be a sign of ovarian or cervical cancer.

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Difficulty or discomfort urinating
> Commonly associated cancers: Bladder, prostate

The symptoms of prostate cancer, especially at an early stage, can be similar to symptoms common among many men as they age, including loss of bladder control, more frequent urges to go to the bathroom, and the inability to empty the bladder entirely (which may also be a sign of colon cancer). Men with prostate cancer often experience difficulty urinating because the prostate may be pressuring the urethra. Most of the time, however, these symptoms are due to an infection, Luckenbaugh noted.

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Change in breast color
> Commonly associated cancers: Breast cancer

A change in the color of the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple may be an early sign of breast cancer. The color may change to pink, red, and even purple. It may look like bruising. Some people dismiss it, but it’s a common symptom of inflammatory breast cancer.

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Hoarseness
> Commonly associated cancers: Lungs, larynx

Most of the time, hoarseness is caused by inflammation of the vocal cords brought on by an upper respiratory tract infection, and sometimes by using your voice — speaking, singing, yelling — too much. Persistent hoarseness, however, may be a sign of larynx or lung cancer, as well as of thyroid cancer.

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Breast lump
> Commonly associated cancers: Breast cancer

A lump or a mass in the breast, even if it’s too small to cause any changes, is one of the first signs of breast cancer. The lump can be painless, hard, uneven, soft, tender, or round. While many symptoms of cancer are vague and may be signs of any number of ailments, breast lumps are relatively reliable signs of a cancer diagnosis down the road. In a 2020 study published in the Lancet examining almost 8,000 people with non-screen detected cancers, breast lump was the most common presenting symptom and consistently associated with increased odds of advanced breast cancer.