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10 warning signs of cancer

Sunday, Aug 21, 2011
The Star/Asia News Network
By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar

#8: Swollen lymph nodes

Your lymph nodes are found in the sides of your neck, under your armpits, and around the groin area. Usually, they may become mildly swollen if you have an infection, and will subside once the infection has been treated or healed.

However, if the lymph nodes get progressively larger for more than a month, or develop lumps that do not go away, and are not related to a treatable infection, then the concern may be that it is linked to cancer, such as blood and lymphatic cancers.

#9: Mouth changes and sores

If you smoke or used to, you should look out for signs of oral cancer. Symptoms include white patches in the mucosa of the mouth, white spots on the tongue, or sores on the lips or in the mouth.

Other sores on the skin and genital area that won't heal, or cause excessive bruising or bleeding, should also be examined by a doctor.

#10: Fatigue and weakness

Finally, we come to the last potential symptom of cancer that is most commonly ignored - fatigue. Obviously, fatigue is such an everyday symptom of so many conditions that we cannot jump to the conclusion that it must be caused by cancer.

However, fatigue caused by cancer will probably be unlike the usual tiredness that you experience after a long day at work. It may plague you even when you have had sufficient rest or have not exerted yourself. It will be prolonged, unabated by rest, and may be accompanied by unexplained weakness.

You will realise that the 10 signs and symptoms described above are very subtle and vague indications of a problem. It is not easy to distinguish symptoms of cancer, and you should not work yourself up into a panic just because you suddenly have a mole on your arm or you are feeling a little tired.

Just keep in mind that if these symptoms persist, or appear without due cause, then it is a good idea to discuss your concerns with your doctor. It could be nothing, but it could also save your life.

Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist (FRCOG, UK). The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice.

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