Cancer never comes quietly and there are usually a few knocks here and there. Early signs of cancer can be so common that it can easily escape your attention. It can take years for cancer to show its major symptoms sometimes, but by that time it can become too late. That is why it is imperative that you are equipped with the knowledge to distinguish between the early signs of cancer from the general discomfort of your body. Early detection is the key to beat cancer. If you can successfully understand and distinguish between the two, then you can give yourself the opportunity to win over cancer. Here is a list of common signs of cancer in women that you should be aware of.
1. Nausea And Stomach Ache
Stomach ache is a common and usually a recurring symptom of many ailments. An upset stomach, gastric problems, and food poisoning are some of the many causes of a stomach ache. Nausea and stomach ache are so common that you can never conclude cancer as the reason after experiencing them for a few times. But if you are having a persistent ache in your stomach along with nausea that is not going away, then you should consult a doctor. Prevalence of pain can be seen in almost 43% of the patients with stomach cancer. Here are some other symptoms of stomach cancer to watch out for:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal discomfort or pain
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Vomiting (with or without blood)
- Bloody stool
Nausea is again a very common reaction of the body. And it is prevalent in the major percentage of the patients suffering from stomach cancer, gynecological cancers, and lung cancer. So, don’t ignore if you are feeling a persistent presence of these symptoms.1
2. Recurring Infection Or Fever
Fever is common but recurring fever is not. Recurring fever has been associated with malignancy. Cancer patients can often get fever due to tumor necrosis, hemorrhage etc. A certain type of tumor like Hodgkin’s lymphoma can also cause fever in people.2 Similarly, leukemia can welcome infections by lowering the body’s ability to fight against them by weakening the immune system.3 Here are some other symptoms of leukemia:4
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Bloating due to enlargement of spleen or liver
Both fever and infections are common to many diseases and they are largely not of any serious concern. But if you are consistently having flu-like symptoms over a long period of time, then you might want to consult a doctor.
Difficulty In Swallowing
Difficulty in swallowing can happen to anyone once in a while. But if you are having this problem continuously for weeks then you might want to consult with your doctor. Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing is a symptom generally associated with stomach cancer. Severe cold and cough can sometimes make swallowing a painful experience. But if you don’t have any kind of cold-related throat problem and still experiencing pain while swallowing, then it is time to get a second opinion.5 (See above for more symptoms of stomach cancer)
Weakness and feeling tired are common to almost all ailments. And if you are having a busy week and not getting enough sleep, it is natural for you to feel that way. A good night’s sleep is all you need to feel fresh again. But if fatigue is refusing to leave your body despite sleeping for days, then you might want to start looking closely at your health. Apart from fatigue, if you are also experiencing shortness of breath, then it is better to get a thorough checkup done. Persistent fatigue has been associated with different types of cancer like stomach cancer, leukemia etc.6 7 (See above for other symptoms of stomach cancer and leukemia)
5. Bloody Discharge In Stool
Bloody discharge is not uncommon among people. And it can happen because of a benign cause like hemorrhoid. Other than hemorrhoid, constipation can also cause this. And both of these can easily be cured. But unfortunately, this can also be a sign of colon or stomach cancer. Some other symptoms of colon cancer are:8 (See above for more symptoms of stomach cancer)
- Weight loss
- Changes in bowel movement
- Narrow stool
- Frequent bloating, gas and digestive problems
People can often dismiss all these as nothing serious. But medical professionals would tell you that it is never normal to have blood in your stool. So, it is advisable to seek medical attention in this case.9
6. Visible Changes In Skin
Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancer in America. And it can be quite difficult to recognize early signs in this case. Freckles, moles, and dark spots generally don’t raise alarm in people. But you need to be vigilant about the changes that your skin goes through. If you have noticed a new mole, spot, bump etc. on your body which is showing consistent change, then you need to get it checked immediately.
When it comes to skin cancer, precautions can really save lives. You should never compromise on your sunscreen lotions and you should limit your exposure to ultraviolet rays whether it is coming from the sun or from tanning beds.11
7. Bleeding Post Menopause
It is natural to experience light bleeding post menopause. But if you are suddenly experiencing period-like flow, then you should definitely consider getting yourself checked. Postmenopausal bleeding, bloody spotting, and discharge can be a sign of uterine cancer.12 Some other symptoms that generally accompany uterine bleeding and can hint towards uterine cancer are:13
- Pelvic pain
- Stomach bloating due to presence of tumor
- Weight loss
You should keep a lookout for these symptoms. Also, women with obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are more at risk in this case.14 So, be proactive about your health as early detection can save lives. If you find something unusual, definitely seek consultation with your doctor.
Don’t wait too long to take action when you find something unusual in your body. Because when it comes to cancer, early detection is the best way to beat it.
|↑1||Vainio, Anneli, Anssi Auvinen, and Symptom Prevalence Group. “Prevalence of symptoms among patients with advanced cancer: an international collaborative study.” Journal of pain and symptom management 12, no. 1 (1996): 3-10.|
|↑2||Pizzo, P. A., K. J. Robichaud, R. Wesley, and J. R. Commers. “Pizzo, P. A., K. J. Robichaud, R. Wesley, and J. R. Commers. “Fever in the pediatric and young adult patient with cancer: a prospective study of 1001 episodes.” Medicine 61, no. 3 (1982): 153-165.|
|↑3||Yoo, Jin-Hong, Su Mi Choi, Dong-Gun Lee, Jung-Hyun Choi, Wan-Shik Shin, Woo-Sung Min, and Chun-Choo Kim. “Prognostic factors influencing infection-related mortality in patients with acute leukemia in Korea.” Journal of Korean medical science 20, no. 1 (2005): 31-35.|
|↑4||Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.
|↑5||Stomach cancer. Cancer Research UK.|
|↑7||Cancer-Related Fatigue. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.|
|↑9||Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer. American Cancer Society.|
|↑10||Check for signs of skin cancer. Cancer Council Australia.|
|↑11||Skin Cancer Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑12||Goldstein, S. R., M. Nachtigall, J. R. Snyder, and L. Nachtigall. “Endometrial assessment by vaginal ultrasonography before endometrial sampling in patients with postmenopausal bleeding.” American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 163, no. 1 (1990): 119-123.|
|↑13||Signs and Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer.
|↑14||Yin, Xiang-Hua, Hong-Yan Jia, Xiao-Rui Xue, Shi-Zhang Yang, and Zhong-Qin Wang. “Clinical analysis of endometrial cancer patients with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.” International journal of clinical and experimental medicine 7, no. 3 (2014): 736.|