1. Medical treatment, not self-care, is needed to treat cancer. Follow your doctor’s guidelines.

  2. Do regular self-exams as advised.

  3. If you are female, get HPV immunizations to help prevent cervical cancer. See Immunizations.

  4. Get routine tests that can help detect early signs of cancer. (See Tests & What They Are For.)

  5. Do not smoke or use tobacco products. Avoid secondhand smoke. Limit exposure to asbestos, radon, pesticides, and herbicides.

  6. Have X-rays only when necessary. Limit exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

  7. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breads and cereals.

  8. Consume salt-cured, salt-pickled, and smoked foods only in moderation.

  9. Drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation, if at all.

  10. Reduce stress. Emotional stress may weaken the immune system which fights off stray cancer cells.

  11. Get to and maintain a healthy weight throughout life.

  12. Get regular physical activity. (See Be Physically Active.)

With cancer, body cells become abnormal, grow out of control, and are or become malignant (harmful). Cancer is a leading cause of death in the U.S. About 1 in 4 of all deaths in the U.S. is due to cancer.

Signs & Symptoms

Cancer can be present without any signs or symptoms. As different types of cancers grow, warning signs (see below) may occur. These could be due to problems other than cancer, too. See your doctor to find out. Pain does not usually occur in early stages of cancer.

Common types of cancer that affect young people aged between 13 and 24 include:

  1. Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  2. Germ cell tumor of the testicle in males.

  3. Germ cell tumor of an ovary in females.

  4. Leukemia.

  5. Brain tumors.

  6. Soft tissue sarcoma, osteosarcoma, and Ewing sarcoma.

  7. Thyroid cancer.

  8. Skin cancer.

For Hodgkin Lymphoma:

  1. Swollen lymph nodes (that do not hurt) in the neck, underarms, or groin

  2. Becoming more sensitive to the effects of alcohol or having painful lymph nodes after drinking alcohol

  3. Weight loss for no known reason

  4. Fever that does not go away

  5. Soaking night sweats

  6. Itchy skin

  7. Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain

  8. Weakness and tiredness that don't go away

For Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma:

  1. Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin

  2. Unexplained weight loss

  3. Fever

  4. Soaking night sweats

  5. Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain

  6. Weakness and tiredness that don't go away

  7. Pain, swelling, or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen

For Chronic or Acute Leukemia:

  1. Swollen lymph nodes that usually don't hurt (especially lymph nodes in the neck or armpit)

  2. Fevers or night sweats

  3. Frequent infections

  4. Feeling weak or tired

  5. Bleeding and bruising easily (bleeding gums, purplish patches in the skin, or tiny red spots under the skin)

  6. Swelling or discomfort in the abdomen

  7. Weight loss for no known reason

  8. Pain in the bones or joints

For Brain Tumor Symptoms:

  1. Morning headache or headache that goes away after vomiting.

  2. Frequent nausea and vomiting.

  3. Vision, hearing, and speech problems.

  4. Loss of balance and trouble walking.

  5. Unusual sleepiness or change in activity level.

  6. Unusual changes in personality or behavior.

  7. Seizures.

For Soft Tissue Sarcoma:

  1. A painless lump under the skin, often on an arm, a leg, or the trunk. There may be no other symptoms at first.

  2. As the sarcoma grows larger and presses on nearby organs, nerves, muscles, or blood vessels, pain or weakness may occur.

For Osteosarcoma:

  1. Swelling over a bone or bony part of the body.

  2. Pain in a bone or joint.

  3. A bone that breaks for no known reason.

For Ewing Sarcoma:

  1. Pain and/or swelling, most commonly in the arms, legs, chest, back, or pelvis

  2. A lump (which may feel warm) in the arms, legs, chest, or pelvis.

  3. Fever for no known reason.

  4. A bone that breaks for no known reason.

For Thyroid Tumors:

  1. A lump in the neck.

  2. Trouble breathing.

  3. Trouble swallowing.

  4. Hoarseness or a change in the voice.

Signs & Symptoms of Cancers More Likely to Occur as Adults Age


Cancer could result from a mix of: Viruses, a person’s genetic makeup and immune status, and other risk factors. These include:

  1. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, nuclear radiation, X-rays, and radon.

  2. Use of tobacco and/or alcohol.

  3. Polluted air and water.

  4. Dietary factors, such as a high-fat diet, the use of nitrates and nitrites in cured meats, etc.

  5. Exposure to certain chemicals, such as asbestos, benzenes, vinyl chloride, etc.

Questions to Ask

Is any cancer warning sign present?


In many cases, cancer can be cured, especially when it is found and treated early.

Cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage it is in, and the body’s response to treatment. In general, this includes: Surgery; radiation; and/or chemotherapy. Biological therapy, hormonal therapy, and stem cell or bone marrow transplants may be used to treat some cancers.

Common Health Problems  »  General Health Conditions


Cancer Information Service

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