Silent Killers! 10 Cancers That Can Show No Signs or Symptoms

While you may think visiting the doctor yearly and getting your routine check-up should be enough to prevent cancers of all types, the truth is that many cancers can be tough to catch early no matter the preventative measures taken. Eating nutritious foods, knowing your family history, and getting plenty of physical activity is a great start for preventing cancer. But knowing exactly what signs and symptoms to look out for, even if you think your health and lifestyle is top-notch, can be life-saving.

Some cancers in particular can be difficult to detect — the American Cancer Society explains the signs and symptoms depend on the location of the cancer itself, how large the area is, and if the cancer has spread. Some cancers fail to show any symptoms until they have grown or spread, or the symptoms that are shown may easily be mistaken for symptoms of something else (fever, fatigue, and weight loss can be common in this case). The following 10 cancers can be particularly hard to detect because of their lack of symptoms early on, so continue to receive check-ups annually and know your family history in case you’re more susceptible to any that are listed.

1. Pancreatic cancer

Cancer treatment

You can have pancreatic cancer and not even know it. | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The pancreas itself is a small organ that rests within the abdomen, and in general, its uses vary from helping with the digestion of food to secreting hormones that help with maintaining proper blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult to diagnose because many people don’t experience symptoms during the early stages. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, there are also no reliable tests for people who may have this cancer if there are no symptoms present.

Some symptoms of pancreatic cancer include pain in the upper abdomen or upper back, the swelling of extremities due to a blood clot, bloated stomach, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, chills, fever, and weight loss. Because pancreatic cancer prevents the body from properly digesting fats, those with the disease may have abnormal stool. Many of these symptoms could easily be seen as a bad stomach virus setting in or even the flu, though, thus making the beginning stages of pancreatic cancer very difficult to detect.

When the cancer begins to spread, jaundice is a common sign, and it can be seen in both the yellowing of the skin and eyes. Fluid in the abdomen and early-onset diabetes are also more advanced signs of the disease.