“Cancer” is a terrifying word. Hearing it can make you feel powerless. Arming yourself with the knowledge to spot the early alarming signs is, therefore, one of the very best things you can do.
Doctors often remind us to learn the symptoms of skin cancer so that we know what to look for. But what happens when looking falls short? There are several invisible signifiers that could suggest skin cancer is looming on the horizon, but luckily, you can reclaim agency over your health if you know what they are.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “one in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their life.” Healthy Way reminds us that skin cancer is the easiest of all cancers to treat, if detected early. But the symptoms often go unnoticed.
Fear not; we’ve got the information to change all that. Here are seven “invisible symptoms” to watch out for; if you spot one, hotfoot it to the doctor. It might just save your life.
1. Lumps under the skin
One early warning sign of skin cancer could be a “lump or area of thickening that can be felt under the skin,” says Mayo Clinic. Check regularly, because you won’t notice them otherwise; a weekly body scan for lumps and bumps on your neck, groin, and armpits may indicate abnormal activity in your lymph nodes.
2. An itch without a cause
If the sensation on the surface or just under your skin changes for no reason, then don’t ignore it. Itching is an ambiguous symptom, but persistent itching with no obvious cause could be a warning sign. Look into it.
3. Mysterious joint pain
Of course, if you work outdoors, with kids, or in an office you will be no stranger to repetitive strain injury. But persistent joint or muscle pain for no known reason is a red flag. Your bones are one of the places a melanoma can spread, causing pain not unlike that of arthritis.
4. Pain in your abdomen
Abdominal pain is common and can indicate a number of conditions, many of them trivial, so don’t panic. However, cancer that has spread to your liver can cause pain in the upper-right quadrant of your abdomen, advises Dr. Jeremy Davis of UCLA Health. If abdominal pain becomes persistent or is accompanied by any other symptoms, then see your physician.