What is the difference between a sign and a symptom?
A sign is a visible signal that something with the body is not right. For example, fever or fast breathing.
A symptom is also a signal that something in the body is not right but it is only noticeable to the person who it is affecting (for example, weakness or achy muscles or bones). Sometimes one sign or symptom is not enough for a doctor to determine what is causing it. In that case doctors may use medical tests, such as X-rays, blood tests or biopsies.
The signs of cancer may vary depending on the type of cancer, where it is located, and the severity of it. Some cancers, as they grow, can push on other organs causing the signs or symptoms to occur in other areas of the body.
Being educated on various signs and symptoms of cancer is another way to be proactive about cancer prevention and treatment.
Some general cancer symptoms include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes in skin
There are also signs and symptoms that occur for specific types of cancers.
There may be other causes for these symptoms. Just because you may have a symptom, does not mean you have cancer. But if any symptom lasts or gets worse, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
- Change in bowel habits or bladder function: Colon, bladder or prostate cancer.
- Sores that do not heal: Skin cancer; sores in mouth, oral cancer.
- Unusual bleeding or discharge: Depending on location in which there is blood or discharge, lung, colon, rectal, cervical, bladder, or kidney cancer.
- Thickening or lump on breast: Breast cancer.
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing: Cancer of the esophagus, stomach, or throat.
- Recent change in a wart or mole or any new skin change: Skin cancer.
- Nagging cough or hoarseness: Cancer of the voice box or thyroid gland.
No symptom should be over looked, especially if it has lasted for a while, if they reoccur or get worse. Cancer treatments work the best if the cancer is found early while it is small and has not spread to other parts of the body. Getting cancer related check-ups, even before any sign or symptom is recommended by the American Cancer Society. For more information on early detection tests, see their document American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer.
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s FirstHealth Cancer Services should be the treatment center of choice for patients in all stages of cancer. Located in Pinehurst, NC, we are convenient to Sanford, Raeford, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Troy and Rockingham regions of North Carolina. For more information on the cancer services we offer, call (910) 715-3500, or click here to contact us.