The strongest weapon we have against cancer today is early detection. As cancer grows it begins to spread, passing from one organ to the next, until it has weakened the entire body. Finding cancer in its early stages gives the stricken a much higher chance of survival and full recovery.
Many people ignore the early warning signs of cancer out of fear or a lack of knowledge about warning signs. And, by the time some people realize something is definitely wrong, it’s often too late to prevent the continued spread of the cancer.
You’re at a higher risk for cancer if you’ve used tobacco or alcohol over a period of time, have had a diet which is high in fat throughout your lifetime, or have worked around strong chemicals. The chances increase if you have immediate relatives that have had cancer, such as your mom or dad, and if you live in certain smog-filled areas of the country.
Some people put off having certain types of cancer screening because the tests are uncomfortable or embarrassing to them. Breast, testicle and colorectal cancer may be difficult to talk about for some people so they simply ignore warning signs in favor of not being embarrassed.
Having check ups and cancer screens can help detect early signs of cancer. If you’re a woman check your breasts for lumps every month beginning in early adulthood. Have a physician check them once every two years, or once a year if breast cancer runs in your family. Have a mammogram every year or so, beginning around age 40.
To detect early cervix cancer have a pap smear every year from the time you’re 18. If your pap smears are normal for a couple years in a row you can lessen the frequency to about every 2 or 3 years. This routine should continue throughout your life no matter what age you are.
If you’re a man have a prostate test every year after the age of 50. If other men in your family have had this type of cancer begin testing earlier, around 35. Check testicles for lumps and report any, even small ones, to a physician immediately.
Colorectal cancer can strike men or women. Early warning signs are blood in stool, cramping in the lower stomach, and a strong urge to have a bowel movement when you don’t actually need to have one. If you have any of these symptoms notify your physician so tests can be performed to check for this type of cancer.
Skin cancer is a type of cancer that can affect any person: young, old, black, white, male, female. Signs of possible skin cancer are irregularly-shaped moles, moles that have changed colors or gotten darker, freckles that have grown, or moles that stand up from the skin and are misshapen.
With any sign of cancer speak to your physician immediately. Cancer is no laughing matter and will not “go away”. It’s important to get cancer treated quickly to increase your chances of beating the disease. Don’t ignore early warning signs – they may save your life.