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This Isn't Cancer, Is It? Understanding Possible Symptoms of Cancer

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This Isn't Cancer, Is It? Understanding Possible Symptoms of Cancer

Cancer is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many. While it's essential not to jump to conclusions, it's equally important to not dismiss symptoms that could be indicative of cancer.

So, the question remains: How do you know when you should be cautious versus concerned about a cancer symptom?

According to Dr. Josh Simmons, a medical oncologist at the Archbold Cancer Center, the key is to know your risk factors, be able to identify any changes in your health, and stay up-to-date with your recommended cancer screenings.

Listen To Your Body

Cancer is a complex disease that can manifest differently in each person. That's why Dr. Simmons emphasizes the importance of paying attention to your body and recognizing any changes or warning signs that could be signaling something is wrong.

"Cancer can manifest differently in each person," said Dr. Simmons. "Many common ailments often share symptoms with cancer, but persistence and specific patterns can help determine whether the symptom is actually normal for you or something we should look into further."

Some early warning signs of cancer include:

  • Unexplained weight loss: Losing weight without trying can be a red flag. Dr. Simmons explains, "Cancer cells can alter your metabolism, causing rapid weight loss. However, it's essential to rule out other causes like stress or dietary changes that can also cause you to lose weight quickly."
  • Persistent fatigue: Cancer-related fatigue is different from regular tiredness. "If fatigue interferes with daily life and doesn't improve with rest, it's certainly worth investigating," advises Dr. Simmons. 

Unexplained weight loss and fatigue can result from the body diverting energy and resources to fight cancer. Though they are common symptoms of cancer, Dr. Simmons advises these symptoms should raise concern, not panic. 

"Many other conditions cause rapid weight loss and extreme fatigue," he reassures. "You should always talk with your primary care physician if you're experiencing any new symptoms or are experiencing health problems that are interfering with your quality of life."

Be Able to Identify Less Commonly Known Cancer Symptoms

Beyond weight loss and fatigue, cancer can exhibit less commonly known symptoms, such as: 

  • Skin changes: Unusual moles, sores, or changes in skin pigmentation
  • Swallowing difficulties: Persistent trouble swallowing or pain while eating
  • Bowel or bladder changes: Blood in the stool or urine, prolonged diarrhea, or frequent constipation

Dr. Simmons advises, "Don't ignore these symptoms, but don't automatically assume they're cancer either. Consult with your primary care physician to determine the cause."

Stay Up-To-Date With Cancer Screenings

Bottom line- cancer screenings play a vital role in early detection. Regular cancer screenings allow your doctor to check for cancer before you show any symptoms. This can help detect cancers earlier when they are more responsive to treatment. 

"Screening recommendations depend on age, personal history, and family history," says Dr. Simmons. "You should always be honest with your primary care doctor about your symptoms, family history, and lifestyle habits so they can build a cancer screening regimen that is best for you."

Discuss this list of cancer screenings recommended by the American Cancer Society with your doctor. 

Addressing Fear and Anxiety

Many individuals are hesitant to see a physician when cancer is suspected due to fear and anxiety. 

Dr. Simmons offers this advice, "It's natural to feel anxious, but early detection significantly improves cancer treatment outcomes. Remember that not all symptoms lead to cancer, and even if it is cancer, timely intervention is key."

Seeking support from loved ones and healthcare professionals can help alleviate fear and anxiety. 

"Don't delay seeing a doctor," Dr. Simmons stresses. "Your health and well-being are worth it."

Your Health is Worth It: Stay Vigilant & Get Screened!

Maintaining regular check-ups with your primary care provider is the key to staying on top of early detection for any diseases, including cancer. Early detection can make a world of difference in the successful treatment of cancer, so don't hesitate to seek help if you're concerned. Your health is worth it!

Your primary care provider can tell you which cancer screenings you need and when. Find an Archbold primary care provider in your area here: