Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

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CANCER is responsible for roughly one in seven deaths worldwide. The disease occurs when a genetic change disrupts the process of cells, resulting in uncontrolled growth. Eventually, rogue cells collate to form growths known as tumours. Fortunately, the survival rate for the disease, if caught early, can be as high as 90 percent. Changes in the smell of the stool should therefore not be ignored.

Changes in the appearance, smell, or colour of the stool can be seen with several conditions, ranging from a chronic inflammatory disease of the bowel to infection, and in rare cases, cancer, according to Medicine Net.

When the smell of stool changes it tends to be because its composition has been altered by bodily changes inside the digestive tract.

Steatorrhoea is defined as the excretion of abnormal quantities of fat with the faeces, owing to the reduced absorption of fat by the intestine.

Patients with the condition tend to present with bulky, pale, foul-smelling and oily stools, according to a recent report published in the National Library of Medicine.

The authors of the report wrote: “Steatorrhoea is the leading symptom of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency in people with pancreatic cancer.”

The main characteristic of this condition is an inability to digest food properly.

Although PEI is a well-documented complication of chronic pancreatitis, study results of PEI in pancreatic cancer are less consistent.

Science Direct writes: “A high prevalence of PEI in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer was demonstrated in several studies.”

In other words, the complication is more likely to emerge in pancreatic cancer cases that are advanced, where the tumour cannot be removed with surgery.

Other cancer symptoms

Some bowel cancer patients claim to notice changes in the smell of their stool as well, but the evidence is largely anecdotal.

A colon is a common place for cancer to grow, but when the disease initiates it rarely produces symptoms.

It is known, however, that frequent episodes of gas or bleaching, or nausea, can all be signs of colon cancer.

The NHS adds: “Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating is always provoked by eating, sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.

“The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and don’t necessarily make you feel ill.”

The general symptoms signalling that the disease has become advanced will include feeling tired, low energy levels and having less appetite.

Cancer is often deemed advanced if it has spread to neighbouring tissue, so symptoms will differ depending on which body tissue is affected by the spreading tumour.

Researchers have continuously highlighted the need for regular checkups for anyone with suspicious bodily changes.

Some experts have been pushing to see bowel cancer screening services made available to those who are not at high risk due to their age, family history, or other factors.

Cancer tests in most Western countries are typically made available for individuals over the age of 50.

For bowel cancer, the procedure involves the insertion of a thin tube with a camera on the end, through the anus and rectum.

Alternatively, patients are sometimes asked to send off a sample of stool to be analysed for traces of blood.

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