Know the Seven Signs
Cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth and division. It's usually a slow process that can take months, sometimes even years, to cause noticeable symptoms. In its early stages, cancer doesn't usually cause pain, but it does often produce signs that something isn't quite right. Have your radar up for these early signs of cancer. In almost all cases, the sooner you find out you have cancer, the easier your treatment will be. And of course, the better your chances are of a complete cure.
There are seven early signs. You can use the acronym CAUTION to help you remember them.
- Change in bowel or bladder habits
- A sore that does not heal
- Unusual bleeding or discharge from any part of the body
- Thickening or lump in the breast or any other part of the body
- Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
- Obvious changes in a wart or mole or other skin condition
- Nagging cough or hoarseness
Keep in mind that having one or more of these symptoms doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer. Infections, non-cancerous tumors and other factors can often cause similar signs. But there's no point in hoping a common cancer warning sign is no big deal. Don't wait to see if it goes away. Make an appointment with your doctor right away to find out exactly what's causing the symptom.
Get Regular Cancer Screenings
It's up to you to and your doctor to make a screening plan for you based on your age, family background, lifestyle and other cancer risk factors. Common cancer screenings include
- PAP smear for cervical cancer detection
- Mammogram (recommended every one to two years from ages 40 to 69)
- Prostate exam (age at which this begins typically depends upon risk factors)
- Colonoscopy (recommended by age 50 for the prevention of colorectal cancers)
Other screenings may be appropriate for you too. For instance, if you're a woman with a close female family member who had ovarian cancer, your doctor may recommend regular screenings for that. And that's just one example.
In general, the best way to avoid cancer is to get regular exercise, have a diet high in fruits and vegetables-5 to 10 per day, manage your stress so that your life feels balanced and have regular screening tests.
The American Cancer Society