12 Signs of Cancer Women Can’t Ignore
We all have general signs and symptoms like pain or fever from time to time. Even if these symptoms can’t readily be explained, it is easy to brush them aside. However, some of these signs may indicate cancer, so it is important to know what they are and to perhaps pay a bit more attention. Noticing these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer, but it could be time to visit your doctor. Let’s look at the top 12 early warning signs for women.
Many women feel bloated from time to time, particularly due to hormonal changes during their menstrual cycle. Hormones make women naturally bloat, so waiting a week to see if the bloating goes away is fine. However, if your bloating remains and is accompanied by other signs like weight loss or unexplained bleeding, then it is time to see your doctor. Constant bloating can be a sign of breast, ovarian, uterine, pancreatic, colon or gastrointestinal cancer.
Women certainly expect to bleed during a period, but spotting or bleeding between periods could indicate endometrial cancer, a form of cancer that affects the lining of the uterus. Be sure to look for blood in the urine and stool as well. Blood in the urine can be an early sign of bladder cancer. Your urine might be orange or pink or even a darker red, but sometimes there may only be small drops of blood. Blood in the stool can be an indication of colorectal cancer. If you notice any of these signs, see your doctor for a test.
Unexpected weight loss
While many women want to lose weight, an unexpected weight loss for no obvious reason is not a good sign. It can be a sign of colon, liver or pancreatic cancer, as well as esophageal cancer or leukemia.
Skin cancers like melanomas are a growing problem, so if you notice skin changes like sores that don’t heal or new growth, it may be cause for alarm. Moles that change or that become raised or have irregular jagged borders should be checked by a doctor.
If you’ve had trouble swallowing when eating or drinking, and if that has been accompanied by weight loss or occasional vomiting, it is time to see your doctor. These signs may indicate stomach, thyroid or lung cancer. If your lymph nodes seem swollen or feel tender, this could be a sign of other cancers. Generally, check your lymph nodes in your armpits, above the collarbone and in your neck near your jawline, and then check in with your doctor.
Self-examination for breast cancer remains one of the main lines of defense against the disease. Women should certainly feel for lumps, but should also notice other changes like unexpected tenderness or swelling, dimpling or inversion of the nipple, or slight skin discolorations, all of which can be signs of breast cancer. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor.
If sores appear in your mouth and they are not stemming from a bite injury to the cheek, it may be cause for concern, as would a cold sore that does not heal. Inside the mouth, look for white or red patches on your cheeks, gums or tongue. Any swelling and numbness is also not normal. All of these signs can point to mouth cancers, so you should see a medical professional. Also, see your dentist regularly, as most dentists now routinely screen for oral cancers.
We all cough from time to time if we get a cold, have allergies or are around second-hand smoke, but if you have a cough that just won’t quit, and you’ve ruled out respiratory infections and other issues, it may be time to see your doctor. Also, look for changes in the cough, such as the cough becoming hoarser or producing mucus or even blood.
Many people don’t realize that fevers are a common sign of cancer, particularly blood cancer. As these cancers spread from their original location, the body attempts to fight the disease with fever. It is important to note that a fever by itself does not indicate cancer, but if you have been feeling feverish with no real reason, discuss this with your doctor.
If you are getting enough sleep and have relatively low stress, but still feel fatigued, it could be a sign of cancer. Many cancers release substances called cytokines, which are thought to cause fatigue.
While many people experience heartburn or acid reflux, these indicators are usually also the first sign of esophageal and stomach cancers. If you begin to have persistent heartburn that doesn’t just occur with meal time, or trouble swallowing, it is time to visit your doctor.
Chronic pain affects millions of people, and it usually is not a sign of cancer. However, ongoing unexplained pain may be a sign of bone or brain cancers that have spread. Belly pain may be a sign of pancreatic cancer, particularly if it runs in your family. If you have unexplained pain that has lasted longer than a month, it is time to see the doctor.
Cancer treatment in the Triangle
While many of these symptoms are common ailments, it is essential to listen to your body to know when something is wrong. Visit your doctor if you notice these symptoms persist or worsen over time.
Personalized Hematology-Oncology provides comprehensive hematology and oncology consultation for all types of cancers. If you or a loved one are seeking cancer treatment in the Triangle, contact us to learn more about our expertise in these cancer treatment areas.