Generally speaking, research shows that women are more vigilant than men about getting the recommended health screenings and checkups. Still, denial is our best-known defense and coping mechanism, and it doesn't always serve us well.
Younger women in particular are more likely than older women to deny or ignore warning signs that can indicate cancer, according to some experts. These experts believe many young women tend to think of cancer as an “old person’s disease” when in reality it can strike at any age.
Putting hypochondria aside, having these warning signs doesn’t mean you have cancer. But they can be important cues in discovering you have cancer early before it has time to grow and spread, and when treatment has the best chance of working - -when the chances for survival is greatest.
Be forewarned, too, that not every cancer has warning signs. But for those that do, it’s important we know what to look for and what to dismiss.
If you have any of these symptoms lasting for more than two weeks or worsening, err on the side of caution and please see a doctor to find out what’s going on.
Here are 14 cancer warning signs that experts say you shouldn’t ignore.
1) Unexplained Weight Loss
Dropping weight is typically greeted with enthusiasm, however if you're losing weight without trying or for no apparent reason, it could be a sign of cancer. Unexplained weight loss is often the first sign of pancreatic, lung, stomach or esophageal cancers.
If you are getting enough sleep but can’t seem to shake that exhausted feeling, see your doctor. Fatigue can be an important indicator of some cancers, like leukemia. Sometimes, fatigue can indicate there’s a blood loss that isn’t always obvious.
Fever is very common with cancer, but it happens more often after cancer has spread. Less often, fever is an early sign of cancer, such as blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma. Nearly all cancer patients will have fever at some point, especially if the disease or its treatment affects the immune system.