One of the most widely known diseases that we face today, and yet also one of the deadliest – it has been said that every American will know at least one person that has suffered or will suffer from a form of cancer at some point in their lifetime. This statement is not shocking when you consider that an estimated 1,685,201 Americans were diagnosed in 2016 alone, while 595.690 would die from the disease.

While researchers and medical experts continue to focus on potential treatment options for the disease, the first line of defense lies in our own hands. Small changes in our body or our habits may actually warn us that there is a problem long before it is caught by our standard medical testing and physicals. Paying attention to your body, and listening to the messages that it is trying to share with us will increase your chances of an early diagnosis, improving the chances of survival.

Pay Attention to These 22 Early Warning Signs of Cancer in Your Body:

#1 – Feeling Full Quickly or Loss of Appetite

Often recognized as a sign of ovarian cancer, a sudden and unexplained loss of appetite or feeling full quickly may indicate the presence of a cancerous mass anywhere in the abdominal area putting pressure on the stomach or digestive tract.

#2 – Lumps or Lesions on the Skin

Skin cancers can present in a number of different forms on the skin including lumps, rashes, or lesions that may bleed excessively, become crusty or fail to heal. This may be a warning sign of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma.

#3 – Bloating or Weight Gain Focused in the Abdomen

If you notice that you are gaining weight specifically in the area of your abdomen, or experiencing unexplained bloating, this may be a sign of ovarian cancer or another abdominal cancer.

#4 – Difficulty Swallowing

While this is most commonly seen in people who are experiencing throat cancer, due to growths in the throat, difficulty swallowing may also be a sign of lung cancer.

#5 – Changes to the Fingernails

Your fingernails can tell you a great deal about your overall health and well-being. The presence of pale or white nails may indicate liver cancer. A black or brown dot underneath the nail is a sign of skin cancer. If the nails start to grow downwards over the tips, known as ‘clubbing’ this is associated with lung cancer.

#6 – Anorexia

A step further then a basic loss of appetite, anorexia refers to a complete loss of appetite. This may also include a sudden disgust for things that were once enjoyed such as wine, coffee or smoking. These signs have been associated with pancreatic cancer.

#7 – Sores or Lesions in the Mouth

If you discover unexplained sores, lesions or sores in the mouth, especially if they fail to heal over time, this may indicate the presence of oral cancers.

#8 – Weakness, Exhaustion or Fatigue

When your body is trying to battle the changes and symptoms of cancer, regardless of what area of the body that it occurs in, it can take a lot out of you physically. Often this leaves those who are suffering feeling physically exhausted, weak or fatigued.

#9 – Unusually Heavy, Painful or Abnormal Periods

Unexplained changes to your period may be a sign of a problem in the gynecological organs of the body. Presence of an unusually heavy or painful period, changes to your period or abnormalities, or bleeding between periods may all indicate endometrial or uterine cancer.

#10 – Unexplained Weight Loss

When cancer spreads to areas of the digestive tract, such as the liver, it can impact the body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients from the food or dispose of waste, resulting in unexplained weight loss. This may be an early warning sign of digestive cancers including colon cancer.

#11 – Blood in the Stool or Rectal Bleeding

If you notice blood when you’re going to the bathroom, take this seriously. Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool may be a warning sign of a number of serious health concerns, including, but not limited to, colorectal cancer. Seek medical advice immediately.

#12 – Chest Pain

The presence of chest pain is generally associated with major health concerns such as a heart attack, but experts warn that it may also point to cancer. Chest pain across the chest extending to the shoulder and down the arm may be associated with leukemia or lung tumors.

#13 – Coughing, Wheezing or Shortness of Breath

When cancer exists along the respiratory tract, especially in the lungs, it can make it difficult for the individual to breath. This may be felt as a shortness of breath all the time, or an ongoing battle of coughing or wheezing when trying to breathe.

#14 – Excessive Urination or Sudden Need to Urinate

The presence of sudden changes in bladder habits such as an increase in frequency or urgency have been associated with the presence of ovarian cancer tumors.

#15 – Excessive Bruising or Bleeding that Won’t Heal

If you notice that you are bruising far easier than normal, your bruises don’t appear to be healing or fading in a reasonable time frame, or your body fails to clot and heal when bleeding, these are all warning signs of abnormalities with the platelets and red blood cells which can indicate leukemia.

#16 – Pelvic or Abdominal Pain

If you are experiencing pain through the abdominal area or in the pelvis, this may be caused by the presence of abdominal tumors, such as ovarian cancer, or an enlarged spleen which may be the result of leukemia.

#17 – Changes to the Breast Including Swollen, Sore or Red Tissue

Women are encouraged to pay careful attention to any changes to the appearance of their breasts, including red or swollen tissue, a flattened or inverted nipple, or the appearance of a rash. These are all warning signs of breast cancer.

#18 – Frequent Fevers or Infections

Some cancers like leukemia, attack the marrow of the bone, which impacts the body’s ability to produce normal white blood cells capable of fighting infection. With this shift, the immune system is no longer as reliable to ward these infections off.

#19 – Back Pain or Pain in the Lower Right Side

If you are experiencing unexplained pain across the back or in the lower right side of the body, this may be an indication of liver cancer. Breast tumors have also been found in some cases to cause pain along the spine/ribs.

#20 – Swelling of Facial Features

Patients suffering from small cell lung tumors often experience a block in the blood vessels of the chest, which can restrict the ability for blood to flow freely from the lungs to the head. This can cause swelling, puffiness or redness in the face.

#21 – Lumps in the Neck, Underarm or Groin

Changes in the lymphatic system of the body are often associated with the presence of or development of cancer. If you notice lumps in these areas, they may be swollen lymph nodes, an important warning sign.

#22 – Upset Stomach or Stomach Cramps

Intense nausea, frequent upset stomachs or stomach cramps may indicate more than just gastrointestinal upset. These signs have all been associated with colorectal cancer.

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