Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for
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Cancer causes wide-ranging symptoms that can easily be mistaken for other illnesses or injuries. The classic triad of cancer symptoms includes unexpected weight loss, debilitating fatigue and unusual bumps, but no two cases are the same. Sometimes, awkward, unwieldy or clumsy movements when walking can be symptomatic of the disease.
Ataxia describes a group of disorders that affect coordination, balance and speech.
According to the NHS, acquired ataxia can have a wide range of potential causes including brain tumours and other types of cancer.
Sometimes ataxia occurs as a result of para-neoplastic neuropathy, a well-established side effect of cancer.
When cancer is the cause, it tends to be because a tumour is damaging the part of the brain called the cerebellum.
This part of the brain plays a particularly crucial role in balance and locomotion.
Sometimes, “severe brain damage may cause cerebellar ataxia weeks to months after the trauma,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
The symptoms a person experiences and their severity will vary depending on the type of ataxia they have.
Generally, however, people with ataxia tend to have poor muscle control which leads to clumsy voluntary movements.
They also typically develop difficulty with walking and balance, as well as hand coordination, speech swallowing and hand movements.
In fact, many motor activities can be described as ataxic if they appear to others or are perceived by patients as uncontrolled.
The underlying malignancy causing these changes tends to be gynaecological, breast or lung cancer, or Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Other reports, however, describe ataxia as a clinical manifestation of womb cancer.
In 2015, a report published in the Archives of Proceeding of Baylor University Medical Center reported on the case of a 67-year-old white woman who experienced ataxia as a result of cancer.
The patient presented to a clinic with a three-day history of headache, severe imbalance, nausea and double-vision, all of which affected his balance.
Two weeks prior to this, the patient had been diagnosed with a four-centimetre tumour following a six-week history of pelvic pain.
The tumour was located in the tissue near the patient’s uterus.
The researchers concluded the report by stating that the swift treatment of tumours is the best approach for stabilising and improving the symptoms.
“In most cases of [ataxia], the neurological symptoms have stabilised by the time treatment has started,” noted the authors.
In many cases, however, even if treatment of the primary tumour is successful, symptoms can continue to affect a patient’s quality of life.
“This signifies the importance of early diagnosis as days in the start of treatment can lead to rapid progression and irreversible neurological damage,” added the authors.
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