Different types of cancer have different clinical presentations, but a common symptom among almost all types of cancer and that usually raises a red flag is unintentional or unexplained weight loss, and sometimes there is the appearance of a visible palpable tumor or a skin abnormality. Now there is no one cause of cancer, it is rather multifactorial. As such you cannot exactly prevent it from happening, but what you can do is to eliminate controllable factors that are known to be associated with cancer, such as smoking (whether 1st hand or 2nd hand smoking), obesity (not just control of your weight through maintaining a healthy diet but also with regular exercise), highly processed foods, eating a lot of red meat and a low-fiber diet (associated with colon cancer).
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It is recommended that all individuals see a Family Doctor for a full medical examination annually. Adults should get their blood pressure checked (US Preventive Task Force), a flu vaccine (CDC) and more each year.