Cancer is the general term for the disease of abnormal cell growth. Normally, our body is very good at telling our cells how to behave: how to grow, and when to die. Cancer cells stop listening to our body, and in fact become self-regulated. Cancer cells can send themselves signals to grow, and ignores other signals telling it to die. Cells become cancerous and take on a life of their own after numerous insults to their DNA, including inflammation, smoking, alcohol, obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, environmental pollutants, and viruses.
What are the symptoms of cancer?
There are specific and general signs and symptoms of cancer. For example, a specific sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. A specific sign of skin cancer is change in the appearance of a mole. But often, we do not get so lucky and have such a specific sign. There are many general signs and symptoms of cancer that everyone should be aware of and talk to their doctor should they arise.
* Note, these general signs can be due to other, non-cancer illness as well.
- Fever – when we have a fever, we often think we are sick. But in the absence of an infection, this could be a sign of cancer, such as leukaemia.
- Fatigue and dizziness – often cancers can cause low hemoglobin, which is the molecule in our red blood cells that carries oxygen. Low hemoglobin can cause fatigue and dizziness.
- Enlarged lymph nodes – many cancers spread via the lymphatic system, and this is often the first sign of metastasis.
- Lingering cough – while this could be a sign of lung cancer, it could also be due to metastasis from a cancer of another origin.
- Pain – new onset of pain anywhere in the body should always be checked out, as this could be due to the pressure of an underlying tumour on nerve tissue.
- Unintentional weight loss – this could be due to uncontrolled inflammation in the body, and is a sign to take seriously.
Generally, always be on the lookout for any kind of new symptoms in your body. This could include vaginal bleeding (cervical and endometrial cancer), changes in bowel movements (colon cancer), hoarseness of the voice (lung cancer), pain in swallowing (esophageal cancer), feeling bloated (ovarian cancer), and headaches (brain cancer).
Complementary Cancer Care
Each kind of cancer is unique in both its diagnosis and its treatment. For more information, please visit each respective page for more information.