15 Early Warning Signs that Cancer Is Growing Inside Your Body

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10. Fatigue

Possible cancer: leukemia or lymphoma

Unexplained exhaustion is the most common sign of cancer. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains cancer-related fatigue is different than normal tiredness; it isn’t a result of activity and can’t be fixed by sleep. Tiredness may be related to the blood loss from other cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. According to the American Cancer Society, fatigue is extremely prevalent in leukemia patients.

11. Back pain

Possible cancer: pancreatic, kidney, prostate, or ovarian

Back pain is a broad symptom of cancer. Tumors may grow in the spinal column, weakening or expanding the bone. More likely, however, back pain could result from cancers that manifest in the lower abdomen areas, involving your pancreas, kidney, or reproductive organs.

12. Cramps or a frequent upset stomach

Possible cancer: colon, ovarian, or leukemia

If you’re experiencing cramps or a sick stomach, you may be exhibiting early signs of colorectal cancer. See a doctor if you notice persistent stomach cramps or are suddenly, frequently nauseous. Gas, indigestion, cramping, and unexplained stomach pressure can all signal ovarian cancer, too. Pain and cramping in the pelvis can be linked with leukemia, which enlarges the spleen.

13. Unexplained anemia

Possible cancer: gastrointestinal, urinary tract, vaginal, leukemia, or lymphoma

Bone marrow cancers like leukemia and lymphoma commonly interfere with your body’s ability to make red blood cells and use already-stored iron. This causes anemia and makes you feel tired and weak. Cancers that lead to blood loss like gastrointestinal, urinary tract, cervical, and vaginal cancers can cause bleeding and lead to iron deficiency anemia.

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14. Persistent headaches

Possible cancer: brain

Brain cancer isn’t often on people’s radar like other cancers. But experiencing frequent headaches that don’t get better with treatment — as well as clumsiness and muscle weakness — indicates just that. An abnormal growth of cells in the brain, this cancer involves treatment in conjunction with neurologists, oncologists, and neurosurgeons.

15. Pain

Possible cancer: bone, liver, testicular, uterine, or breast

According to the ACS, pain may be an early symptom of bone cancers or testicular cancer. Most often, pain due to cancer means it has already spread (metastasized) from where it started.

Unusually heavy, painful periods are a common sign of uterine cancer, and back pain can be an early sign of liver cancer. Many people don’t know that breast cancer can exhibit itself through back pain as well; the tumor may press backward and spread to your spine or ribs.

Cancer with no warning signs

There are a few cancers with no indicators at all. Pancreatic cancer may not show any signs until it has progressed to an advanced stage. Your doctor may recommend regular cancer screenings if you have a family history of the disease.

According to Healthline, despite the warning signs (or lack thereof), it’s impossible to know exactly how an individual might respond to a certain type of cancer, as the symptoms vary.

Reducing your risk

Don’t smoke, wear sunscreen, consume alcohol in moderation — you’ve heard it all before. But there are other habits you can adopt to protect yourself from cancer. Exercise regularly, get consistent cancer screenings, and learn your family history to reduce your risk.

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