Getting a cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest things that can happen in your life, but thanks to science, getting diagnosed with cancer doesn’t have to be as scary as it once was. Elizabeth Comen of SurvivorNet shares, “Cancer is such an exciting and hopeful field these days. There are more and more ways we can think about treatment.”
Various treatments can help you overcome a wide variety of cancer diagnoses, but your chances of overcoming cancer are higher the earlier you detect a problem.
Don’t put off checking for cancer because you fear a diagnosis. Know how to check for common types of cancer at home so you can talk to your doctor and get onto the road to recovery sooner rather than later.
There are a few different types of skin cancer, and as one of the most common types of cancer, it’s important to know what they are:
- Basal cell carcinoma resembles a pearl-like bump and is common in those with fair skin.
- Squamous cell carcinoma looks like a red firm bump, a scaly patch, or a sore.
- Melanoma is a dark spot on the skin that looks different from the rest of the marks on your skin.
Other less common forms of skin cancer include cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and sebaceous carcinoma. Although they all look a little different, you can identify a potential problem by inspecting your skin closely multiple times a year and make an appointment if you see any changes.
There is a one in eight chance a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, so it’s important for every woman to check for breast cancer regularly. It is especially important if you have a family member who experienced this disease, as it can sometimes run in families.
Checking your breasts for lumps regularly is important, but breast cancer can also show up in your armpit or around your collarbone, so make sure you check your entire chest. Other signs might include swelling, pain, or dimpling that can make your skin look a bit like an orange peel.
Smoking is a common cause of lung cancer, but you don’t have to smoke cigarettes in order to be diagnosed with this disease. Second-hand smoke and vaping also have the potential to cause lung cancer, as can breathing poor air. It’s worth your time to pay attention to the signs of lung cancer, whether you smoke or not.
Lung cancer signs to look out for include:
- A persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Losing weight
- Frequent headaches
Although these symptoms can be a sign of lung cancer, they can be signs of something else too, like asthma. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Not only might you be able to catch your lung cancer at an earlier stage, you may also find out your symptoms are due to a diagnosis that’s a little less serious than cancer.
Although women can technically get prostate cancer, it is extremely rare. Prostate cancer for men, unfortunately, isn’t so rare. Just as women should be aware of the signs of breast cancer, men should be aware of the signs of prostate cancer.
You want to be aware of things like trouble urinating, decreased force when urinating, and even bone pain.
Although all men should be aware of troubling symptoms, those over the age of 50 should be especially aware. Family history may also contribute to the development of this cancer, so you should get screened earlier if your father, grandfather, or uncle was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Unfortunately, colorectal cancer may not have symptoms in its earlier stages. If you have a family history of this type of cancer, it’s important to get tested regularly to catch a potential problem early.
Some symptoms that may appear as colon cancer progresses include:
- Constipation or diarrhea that doesn’t go away
- Dark patches of blood in your stool
- Belly discomfort or bloating
- Cramping in your rectum
If you observe any of these symptoms, don’t panic. There is a lot of overlap between different conditions and these symptoms. For example, you may have something less serious, like hemorrhoids, that is causing your symptoms. The earlier you get things checked out, the better you will feel.
Bladder cancer isn’t as common as some other types of cancer, but it’s still worth your time to keep your eyes open for symptoms so you can catch bladder cancer early. If you catch bladder cancer at stage zero or one, you have over an 88 percent chance of surviving. If you don’t catch it until stage four, your likelihood of survival is only 15 percent.
Look for blood in your urine, as it’s usually the first sign of cancer, as well as changes in urination, like pain or trouble, urinating.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most common forms of childhood cancer, but it can affect adults as well, so keep your eyes open for symptoms is important. Unfortunately, it can be hard to discover because this cancer can develop in different areas of the body.
Be aware of large lumps that appear under the skin, but you should also queue into more general symptoms like feeling weak or tired all the time, shortness of breath, or pain and pressure in your chest. More serious signs include severe, regular infections and bruising or bleeding easily.
No matter what the symptoms or where you’re having them, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor right away to rule out the possibility of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The fear of getting a cancer diagnosis shouldn’t rule your life. With improvements in treatment for all cancers, you have a greater chance of overcoming your diagnosis, but only if you’re aware of common cancer symptoms and take them seriously as soon as they appear.