Cancer affects one in two people in the UK, and with there currently being no cure, it can prove deadly. This is why spotting symptoms of the disease early is very important. Skin cancer, one of the most common cancers in the world, typically causes sores, ulcers, lumps, red patches or changes to existing freckles or moles.
But other cancers can cause skin changes that can be seen.
According to American Cancer Society, these signs and symptoms include:
- Darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Reddened skin (erythema)
- Itching (pruritus)
- Excessive hair growth
The health organisation adds: “You should know some of the general signs and symptoms of cancer.
“But remember, having any of these does not mean that you have cancer – many other things cause these signs and symptoms, too.
“If you have any of these symptoms and they last for a long time or get worse please see a doctor to find out what’s going on.”
Another general symptom of cancer to note is unexplained weight loss.
The organisation explains: “Most people with cancer will lose weight at some point. When you lose weight for no known reason, it’s called an unexplained weight loss.
“An unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer.
“This happens most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, oesophagus (swallowing tube), or lung.”
Fever can also be a sign. It states: “Fever is very common with cancer, but it more often happens after cancer has spread from where it started.
“Almost all people with cancer will have fever at some time, especially if the cancer or its treatment affects the immune system. (This can make it harder for the body to fight infection.)
“Less often, fever may be an early sign of cancer, such as blood cancers like leukaemia or lymphoma.”
Fatigue is also worth noting. It says: “Fatigue is extreme tiredness that doesn’t get better with rest. It may be an important symptom as cancer grows.
“But it may happen early in some cancers, like leukaemia.
“Some colon or stomach cancers can cause blood loss that’s not obvious. This is another way cancer can cause fatigue.”
The NHS offers its own list of cancer symptoms to look out for.
- A lump in your breast
- Coughing, chest pain and breathlessness
- Changes in bowel habits
- Unexplained weight loss
The health body adds: “If your GP suspects cancer, they’ll refer you to a specialist – usually within 2 weeks.
“The specialist will carry out further tests, such as a biopsy or X-ray, and plan any necessary treatment.”
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