When you’re feeling under the weather, but you have no idea what’s causing it, nine times out of ten you jump on the internet and go looking for solutions. Its probably not cancer, even though the symptoms may seem that way. And nine time out of ten, you come away from WebMD thinking you have cancer or some other serious illness that could end unpleasantly.
Before you go have a panic attack, take a look at these risk factors, signs, and symptoms associated with cancer so you can verify that you are not, in fact, dying.
Let’s get your immediate worries out of the way. Many physical symptoms of cancer contribute to the symptoms of other illnesses as well, so if you have one symptom out of the ten listed for a particular disease, it’s pretty safe to say that you haven’t contracted it.
Take a look through the following bodily signs to see how you measure up. Remember, some of these may also be the result of recent lifestyle changes or injuries and simply need to be followed up on by your physician.
- A change in bowel and/or bladder behavior
- Sudden weight changes
- Unusual lumps or hardened areas
- Unexplained and persistent pain, fever, or bleeding/discharge
Behavior & Habits
The next step to take to alleviate your worries about cancer is assessing your current behavior. Are you uncharacteristically tired and seem to have no energy even when you sleep long hours? Symptoms specific to brain cancer would be persistent headaches or issues with your sight and hearing. Your balance could also be off and you might have difficulty forming words.
Other affected aspects of your behavior could be difficulty processing information or remember things. Mood swings and extreme changes in personality may also be signs that something more is going on. If you’re about as weird as normal, chances are that you’re fine.
Now let’s review some of your current habits. While these may not be symptoms of an underlying illness, they can be indicators that put you at a higher risk for cancer. If you’re eating too much greasy junk food and drinking a lot of alcohol instead of getting enough fruits and vegetables, it’s time to make a change. If you spend most of your time sitting or lounging, make a plan to get moving and do more on your feet.
So far, it looks like you’ll live, but there are a few more things to run through. If you spend excessive time in the sun or lying in a tanning bed, your at a higher risk for cancer. UV radiation exposure over time can add up and affect how cells are growing in your body.
Review the types of chemicals and infectious agents (like HIV, HPV, or Hepatitis B and C) that you’re exposed to routinely. These can increase your risk of cancer, especially if you haven’t been using the appropriate protective equipment when interacting with such substances or individuals who have them.
If you’ve made it to this section, then you’re home free. You should already have a good idea of what your health history is like and whether or not cancer risks run in your family. If you don’t, call up a family member to get the story.
Finally, check in regularly with your primary physician, even when you’re feeling fit and healthy, and keep up with your vaccinations. When you do have concerns about your health, don’t be afraid to bring them up at your appointment so your doctor can address them.
If your doctor suspects anything, they can refer you to a specialist like Teton Cancer Institute for further treatment. So stay consistent with tracking your health, and if you still have concerns (even if you’re pretty sure it’s not life-threatening anymore), make an extra appointment just to allay your worries.