It is definitely better when cancer is detected at an early stage. Sometimes it is enough to listen to the signals of your body. What so-called “red flags” cannot be ignored, told radiotherapist, candidate of medical sciences, deputy general director for scientific work of the oncological clinic Denis Romanov.
Usually, patients understand the symptoms as “red flags”, but a number of risk factors can also be attributed to them, says Denis Romanov. First of all, we look at the hereditary factor. “The reason for the development of some cancers and malignant tumors lies in the mutations that we inherit from our parents. For example, if it is known that a girl’s grandmother has had breast cancer since she was 40, and her mother since 45, she needs a genetic examination and a doctor’s control,” says Denis Romanov.
Smoking is also a risk factor. “If a person has been smoking for 30-40 years, this is automatically a “red flag” for him. Against the background of smoking, a dozen and a half tumors develop. You need to do a low-dose CT scan or at least an x-ray once a year to understand if everything is in order, ”the radiotherapist notes.
Common classic symptoms
Among the common symptoms – weight loss, especially 10-15 kg, against the background of a good appetite. “Many often rejoice at this fact and do not seek to interrupt such a process, although unmotivated weight loss is an alarming sign,” explains Denis Romanov.
Fatigue is also dangerous. “It is worth focusing on the fact that an unhealthy state occurs abruptly, as it was cut off. Yesterday everything was fine, but today there is too much weakness and high fatigue,” says Denis Romanov.
Another common signal is anemia. It is easily detected in a blood test. If there is bleeding, even easier – blood in the stool or from the genital tract forces the person to undergo an examination.
Signals from organs
Different tumors can give their characteristic symptoms that cannot be ignored.
From the CNS
The nervous system and brain tumors usually give neurological symptoms, the specialist emphasizes. There can be two options – either a phased development, or a sharp one. The first is associated with the appearance of headaches or visual impairment, or a feeling of awkwardness in your hand, when yesterday you could hold a mug in the usual way, but today it is already uncomfortable. The second option is a sharp development of events when a hemorrhage occurs in the tumor. Then the symptoms resemble a stroke.
From the side of the head / neck
There are “red flags” here. “It is necessary to pay attention to various long-term non-healing sores on the mucous membranes, for example, in the mouth, on the cheeks. No one excludes ordinary stomatitis, but if they do not heal for more than two weeks, it is worth being examined, ”advises the radiotherapist.
You should also pay attention to:
- pain when chewing and swallowing;
- problems with opening the mouth when it is not possible to open it wide.
Enlarged lymph nodes can also be bright signals.
From the mammary glands
Even if a woman visits a doctor regularly and undergoes examinations, but finds a lump in her chest between checks, you should not wait. “Among the warning signs in breast cancer is an increase in axillary and supraclavicular lymph nodes,” warns Denis Romanov.
From the side of the lungs
With tumors of the lung, sputum with blood, shortness of breath may appear. If there is no reason for shortness of breath, it is worth checking. And in general, shortness of breath is not the norm, but a consequence of a number of diseases of the cardiovascular system and lungs.
From the larynx
With cancer of the larynx, “red flags” can be hoarseness (it should not be attributed to a cold, after any SARS, hoarseness should pass quickly) and difficulty swallowing.
From the side of the esophagus
With the development of malignant tumors, there will be problems with the passage of food, a lump appears in the throat. “If you ignore this signal, a situation may arise when a person, in principle, cannot eat or even drink, he swallows and immediately spits everything back,” explains Denis Romanov.
From the gastrointestinal tract
It is worth paying attention to the bleeding that may appear. “Scarlet blood will appear if the tumor is located in the large intestine and does not undergo fermentation in the overlying sections of the digestive tract,” the specialist notes. And in an already rather neglected situation, bowel cancer will be indicated: a change in the nature of feces, the stool becomes ribbon-like, as an obstruction forms in the intestine, prolonged constipation, bloating and abdominal pain.
Malignant formation of the anal canal is quite easy to grope. If there is soreness, discomfort or problems with bowel movements, you can determine the problem yourself, and then contact a proctologist.
Tumors of the pancreas and biliary tract often manifest themselves as jaundice – an acute condition in which the skin and sclera turn yellow and in which delay can end in failure. Also, tumors of the pancreas can give themselves away by the appearance of pain in the abdominal cavity or “girdle” character.
From the side of the uterus
Cancer of the cervix and body of the uterus usually signals itself by bleeding, which can develop, for example, in the postmenopausal period or outside the rhythm of the menstrual cycle.
“Here, as an addition to the“ red flag ”, I would add the presence of the human papillomavirus. Do not think that these are all the problems of ladies in their age. Often, cervical cancer associated with HPV develops in women aged 30-40 years, or even younger, ”notes Denis Romanov. That is why doctors recommend even young girls with no complaints not to neglect the observation of a gynecologist.
From the side of the bladder
The main signal here will be the appearance of blood in the urine.
From the side of the prostate
Many older men experience a violation of the act of urination: with frequent urges, including at night, a weak stream of urine, a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder. Of course, all these symptoms can be the result of age-related changes in the prostate – benign hyperplasia or adenoma. But a competent urologist will definitely prescribe a blood test for PSA and perform a digital rectal examination.
Signals can be bone pain – often in the back. But this happens already in the presence of distant metastases.
In general, performing CT or MRI with complaints of pain in the bones of the skeleton often leads to the detection of a malignant disease in a person who is unsuccessfully treated for “osteochondrosis” or “herniated discs”.
From the side of the skin
Should alert the degeneration of moles, a change in their color, size, the appearance of bleeding. With less aggressive skin cancers, long-term wounds and ulcers, seals should be monitored. The process of detecting soft tissue sarcomas is a bit similar in this regard, when a growing tumor accessible to examination from the outside – for example, a limb – pretends to be a compaction among soft tissues, increasing in size over time.
Since many symptoms overlap, it is worth paying special attention to problems that are not associated with a chronic disease and have arisen suddenly, and are not resolved for a long time even with treatment. In this case, sometimes it makes sense to contact an oncologist and check according to his schemes in order to exclude a malignant disease. No matter how shocking the oncological diagnosis is, the treatment will be the more successful the sooner this disease is detected, sums up Denis Romanov.