Odds are that you or someone you know has battled cancer at some point in their life. With an estimated 11.9 million cancer victims each year, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results, we all need to be educated on the warning signs of cancer. Some signs are more apparent, like intense pain, while others can be more subtle, such as a skin discoloration. The American Cancer Society came up with the acronym C-A-U-T-I-O-N to help people become aware of symptoms that indicate you may need to see your doctor for further testing.
C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
A change in how many times you are going to the bathroom, or the presence of diarrhea or constipation could be a warning sign of cancer. Of course, everyone who has diarrhea or constipation doesn’t have cancer, but this is a symptom of cancer located somewhere in the gastro-intestinal (GI) system.
A: A sore that does not heal
A sore that does not respond to usual wound treatment should be seen by a doctor; several things could account for this, but it is a sign of a weakened immune system, secondary to the beginning stages of cancer.
U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
Bleeding is the body’s natural response to cuts, scrapes and other wounds, but if there is unexplained bleeding, this is cause to see a doctor to discover its origin.
T: Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles or elsewhere
Testicular cancer and breast cancer strike more and more men and women, as well as teenagers. You should consult your doctor if you notice any lumps in these areas and have these area’s examined when you have your yearly physical.
I: Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
Again, not everyone with these two symptoms has cancer, but these can be a warning sign of throat cancer or other types of cancer.
O: Obvious change in the size, color, shape, or thickness of a wart, mole, or sore
Many warts and moles are benign, but if a wart or mole that you’ve had all your life suddenly looks or feels different, you should consult your doctor.
N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
This is a common symptom of cancer involving the lungs and upper airway.
This list is not meant as a diagnostic tool, but is definitely a good reminder of things you should look out for.
As previously stated, if you notice any of these symptoms, please consult your family physician for further testing.
Justin Glaze is an LPN and contributing columnist for the Walker County Messenger. He can be reached at 678-988-1011 or email@example.com.