Hindsight can be perfectly harmless at times, and deadly at others. You might have forgotten about the toaster and burnt your bread, or perhaps you neglected homework and received a deduction. But when you neglect medical symptoms, especially those that foreshadow cancer, the repercussions can be far more serious.

A late detection from overlooking symptoms can give the disease time to spread and become an irreversible burden. The symptoms are deceptive in the fact that they can be seemingly normal happenings. The following symptoms are inherently mundane things that you should pay attention to and consider looking into with a physician if they persist.


1. Unexplained Weight Loss

This is one of the initial noticeable cancer signs, especially for solid tumor cancers like lung and breast cancer. Once the cancer reaches the liver and disrupts its functioning associated with removing toxins and regulating appetite, it causes weight loss. But this can as well be a warning sign of digestive types of cancer, like colon cancer.

– 40% of all cancer patients report this warning sign at the time of diagnosis
– up to 80% of advanced cancer cases are experiencing cachexia (general ‘wasting’) and unexplained weight loss

Losing weight by watching your diet or exercising is normal. In all other cases, losing up to 10% of your weight, or up to 10 pounds a month in a 6-month span is likely a cause for concern.

2. Fatigue and Weakness

If your fatigue and weakness don’t disappear even when you rest or get more sleep, consult your doctor ASAP since it might be a warning symptom of many cancers.

3. Frequent Fevers or Infections

In most cases, fever is a sign that your body fights an infection. However, if it’s a prolonged or persistent one, it might indicate a cancerous condition, like lymphoma. Also, the cancer of the blood cells, leukemia, can cause signs such as fever, frequent infections, aches, fatigue, and other flu-related signs.

4. Shortness of Breath or Wheezing

Shortness of breath and wheezing can indicate various conditions, including lung cancer. Wheezing might be caused by a lung tumor pressing against and narrowing an airway.

5. Cough or hoarseness

It’s cold and flu season, so coughing can feel like a given. However, if your cough persists, it could indicate laryngeal, lung, or thyroid cancer or lymphoma. This was the most common symptom among survey participants. “We know coughs and colds are everywhere at the moment, and we’re not suggesting everyone with a cough goes to their doctor,” Whitaker said. “But if you have a symptom that doesn’t go away or is unusual, don’t be afraid to go to your doctor for advice.”

6. Bloating

The strange abdomen bloating that is on and off too for a long time might be ovary cancer. If there is also swollen belly, pelvis pain or fullness it might indicate more. Sometimes these occur after overeating, but check it just in case.

7. Chronic Heartburn

Usually, heartburn is a sign of acid reflux. However, persistent heartburn might be related to esophageal cancer or Barrett’s esophagus. In May 2012, the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology has published a study which explains that chronic heartburn can cause inflammation of the tissue lining in the esophagus that in turn raises the risk of esophageal cancer.

Furthermore, in 2013, the American Journal of Cell Physiology has published the research conducted by scientists at Rhode Island Hospital, which explains the link between Barrett’s esophagus and the esophageal cancer development.

8. Bowel Issues

Changes in bowels lasting more than a month mean you need to see a doctor. It could be bowel cancer, and is common for elder people.

9. Difficulty Swallowing

Problems with swallowing, or feeling chunks of food stuck in your chest or throat that worsen with time, might indicate throat or esophageal cancer. Other warning signs of these types of cancer include burning sensation or pain when swallowing food. In most cases, esophageal cancer doesn’t show any initial symptoms, so don’t ignore these if they do appear. Problems with swallowing can also be one of the initial warning signs of lung cancer.

10. Jaundice

The eye whites and skin get yellow. This is gallbladder or liver issue, but also pancreas cancer that disrupts bile and liver work.

11. Unusual Swelling or Lumps

If you notice a strange lump on your groin, testicle, breast, underarm, abdomen, neck, or any other part of your body that lasts for 3 weeks or more, make an appointment with your doctor ASAP. Sometimes, a lump or enlarged lymph node under the arm can indicate breast cancer, Swollen, red and sore breasts can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.

12. New or Changing Moles or Skin Spots

Although most skin changes are not dangerous and don’t cause pain, doctors recommend screening for cancer if you notice:

– new spots, growths, or sores on the skin that don’t heal
– changes in color, symmetry, diameter, or border of your existing mole

13. Nail Changes

Although strange changes in your fingernails can appear for many reasons, they can also be warning signs of skin, lung, or liver cancer.

– brown or black spots under fingernails can be a sign of skin cancer
– enlarged ends of the nails (clubbing of the toes or fingers) can be linked with lung cancer. This problem is caused by conditions which lower the amount of oxygen in the blood
– white or pale nails can indicate poor functioning of the liver caused by many diseases, such as liver cancer

14. Abdominal or Pelvic Pain

Lower abdominal or pelvic pain followed by pelvic heaviness and changes in the bowel habits can indicate ovarian cancer. The chances of developing this type of cancer are higher in:

– women with a family history of ovarian, colorectal, or breast cancer
– women who have never been pregnant
– women diagnosed with colon, breast, uterine, or rectal cancer

In addition, pain in the pelvic area might indicate leukemia or uterine cancer.

15. Unusual Pain Lasting Longer than 4 Weeks

Pains and aches can be caused by numerous reasons. However, pain occurring for no apparent reason which comes and go, or stays for a period of 4 weeks or more, needs to be checked by a doctor as it may indicate testicular or bone cancer.

16. Abnormal Bleeding

Besides being a sign of a urinary tract infection, blood in the urine can also indicate kidney or bladder cancer. In the same way, blood in stools can indicate bowel cancer, although it is a typical sign of hemorrhoids. Signs of uterine or endometrial cancer include bleeding after menopause or between periods. Although rarely, sometimes vaginal bleeding can indicate vaginal cancer. Similarly, one of the warning signs of colorectal cancer is bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.

Excessive and persistent bruising and bleeding might be a warning symptom of leukemia. Coughing or vomiting blood can indicate lung and esophageal, or stomach cancer respectively. Although the reason for abnormal bleeding is not cancer in most cases, it can indicate other serious conditions and diseases that require proper medical examination. Besides doing the recommended cancer screenings and regular health check-ups, make sure you pay attention to the symptoms described in this post.

Better safe than sorry!