A symptom is defined as
the signal of disease, illness, injury or a problem in the body. Symptoms are
not always easily seen by those who are not feeling or noticing them.
Cancer can cause almost any sign or symptom, depending
on the location and size of the tumor, as well as its effects on organs or
tissues. Cancer that has spread, or metastasized, may cause symptoms in other
parts of the body. As it grows, it can push on nearby organs, blood vessels and
nerves, causing some signs and symptoms of disease. Even small tumors, in
critical parts of the body such as the brain, can cause symptoms.
Symptoms can sometimes not present themselves until
cancer has grown quite large; for example, in the pancreas. Once the cancer in
the pancreas grows large enough to press on nearby nerves or organs, symptoms
may present. Other cancers in the pancreas may grow around the bile duct and
prevent the flow of bile, causing yellowing (jaundice) of the eyes and skin.
The cancer is usually in an advanced stage by the time these symptoms present,
signaling the growth and spread of the cancer beyond the pancreas.
Cancer can also cause signs and symptoms, including
fever, fatigue or weight loss. These symptoms may be caused by cancer cells
using the bodys energy supply or releasing substances that change the way
the body makes energy from food. Cancer can also cause the immune system to
react in ways to produce these symptoms.
Substances released in the bloodstream by cancer may
cause symptoms not typically linked with cancer. For example, pancreatic
cancers can cause blood clots in leg veins; some lung cancers produce
hormone-like substances that raise blood calcium levels, affecting the nerves
and muscles and resulting in weakness and dizziness.
General signs and symptoms of cancer include:
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Skin changes.
Symptoms of specific cancers include:
- Change in bowel habits or bladder function (colon,
bladder or prostate cancers).
- Sores that do not heal (skin or oral cancers).
- White patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue
(leukoplakia; sometimes leading to oral cancer).
- Unusual bleeding or discharge (lung, gastrointestinal, gynecologic or
- Thickening or lump in the breast or other parts of the body (breast,
testicular, lymph node or soft tissue cancers).
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing (gastrointestinal cancers).
- Recent change in a wart or mole; any new skin change (skin cancers).
- Nagging cough or hoarseness (voice box, thyroid or lung cancers).
There are many other, less common
symptoms of cancer. It is always best to speak with your physician regarding
any new symptoms or signs, as they may or may not be related to cancer.
Additional information can be found by searching the following