Cancer is one of the most challenging diseases, as it presents difficulties in treatment both on part of the doctor devising the course of treatment and mostly for the patient struggling with it, bearing the pain and the side effects of the treatment and gathering the courage and willpower to battle cancer every day. To know that the cancer is in remission is the greatest news for a cancer patient who has successfully completed the treatment. Where cancer remission is invigorating, unfortunately, there remains a wavering fear of the disease recurrence. The possibility of cancer recurrence varies with the type of cancer and the signs vary from person to person.
Cancer remission has three main types. A local recurrence when cancer returns in the same part where it originated, regional recurrence when cancer returns not in the same area where it originated but in the nearby or regional lymph nodes and a distant recurrence in which the diseases recurs in a new part of the body, distant from the origin.
The signs of cancer recurrence also vary with the type of recurrence. The symptoms are sometimes not so obvious and can be misleading. Most people don’t pay attention to them until the disease has already aggravated. Although minor aches can be ignored, cancer survivors should always pay attention to how frequent and how intense are the symptoms. Here are a few signs of cancer recurrence which are often overlooked but should never be ignored.
Unexplained weight loss
An unintended weight loss of 10 pounds or more can be an early sign of cancer recurrence. A possible explanation could be the excessive consumption of nutrients by the cancer cells depriving normal cells of the required nutrients. Moreover, you could also be losing weight because of poor appetite which is also common in cancer.
Fevers are common in cancer patient as they affect the immune system and an attack on the immune system is signaled to the body by an increase in the temperature which is a natural defense mechanism. Cancer types like leukemia and lymphoma often cause fever. In case of recurrent fevers that are accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue and weight loss, see your doctor.
A persistent cough
Cough in absence of other symptoms of cold and flu that does not seem to go away despite trying all the remedies should be taken seriously.
Aches and pain
An unexplained ache not going away after treatment could be an indicator of a serious illness. If it is a case of recurrence, a brain tumor could be a cause of a headache, bone cancer could be a cause of pain in long bones of arms and legs and pelvic bones. Back pain could be associated with other cancers like kidney or ovarian cancer.
Bowel changes if short-term could be a result of a bacterial or viral infection but if they are long-lasting and don’t go away on their own or by drinking an excess of water, they could be a sign of recurrence. Other severe symptoms like a change in the stool color dark red or black should be immediately reported to your healthcare provider.
Symptoms that signal to a UTI, they could also be a sign of cancer. Bloody urine, pain while urinating and frequent urination could indicate urinary tract cancer or prostate cancer.
Cancer acts to cause fatigue in a number of ways including the release of fatigue causing chemicals (cytokines), changing level of hormones, weakening muscles and damaging organs. If you are experiencing weakness, heaviness in limbs and are unable to carry out daily activities, you should not ignore it and talk to your doctor.
Lumps and other changes in the skin
Pay attention to any lumps on your skin or bumps in the lymph nodes which could be a potential indicator of cancer such as lumps in the chest area or nearby lymph nodes a sign of breast cancer. Similarly, sores and moles that won’t go away or change in color are also an indicator. Any such changes should be reported to the doctor without any delay.
It’s good to be aware of the symptoms of cancer recurrence so that they can be reported to the healthcare provider immediately but if you have a history of cancer, it’s necessary that you get screened regularly.