Special Report

20 Common Symptoms That Can Mean Cancer

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> Commonly associated cancers: Ovarian, breast, pancreatic, colon, stomach cancer

“Bloating is the most common very early sign of ovarian cancer,” said Dr. Nicholas Tarricone, a gynecologist and the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at ProHEALTH Care in Rockville Centre, New York. “Even fatigue shows up later.” The bloating in the very early stages of the disease is actually gas building up in the abdomen as a result of the tumor growing and causing local inflammation. Bloating is also associated with cancers of the pancreas, colon, and stomach.

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Abdominal pain
> Commonly associated cancers: Stomach, kidney, ovarian, pancreatic

Kidney cancers in their early stages are often found incidentally, said Dr. Amy Luckenbaugh, a urologic oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. It usually happens when patients go to check out abdominal pain they may be feeling. Kidney lumps are hard to feel because the kidneys are located deep in the abdomen, but they may cause pain.

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> Commonly associated cancers: Lung, larynx, upper respiratory tract

A dry persistent cough is usually a symptom of a respiratory tract infection. It may also be a sign of an allergy. However, a cough that lasts several weeks and only seems to be getting worse may be a sign of lung cancer, one of the most common cancers in both men and women, according to the CDC. The cough may be caused by the tumor stimulating receptors in the airways, or by the inflammatory response of the body, which also stimulates the airways. Lung cancer is associated with a build-up of fluid in the chest cavity, which can also cause a persistent cough. Coughing up blood may also be a symptom of lung cancer and is not a good sign regardless of the underlying disease.

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Change in mole appearance
> Commonly associated cancers: Skin

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer among both men and women, and moles are a good way of detecting it. Any changes in size, color, shape, or the surface of a mole, as well as the appearance of any new spots or new swelling beyond the borders of the mole, should be checked out. Most often, cancer detected through mole changes is at an earlier stage and is more easily treatable.

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Early satiety
> Commonly associated cancers: Stomach, ovarian, pancreatic

What makes some cancers difficult to detect at an early stage is the fact that they don’t often cause symptoms when they begin to form. An early signal of ovarian cancer, however, can be a sense of fullness after eating just a little bit, according to Alvarez, chairman and clinical service chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Early satiety can also be a sign of stomach cancer. The tumor pushes on the intestine, which pushes the stomach resulting in less space for food.

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