The Early Signs of Cancer That Every Woman Should Know About

The Early Signs of Cancer That Every Woman Should Know About

When it comes to cancer, early detection is essential to good outcomes. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that the average woman’s lifetime risk of developing cancer is 23.96%. That amounts to one in four people.

The National Cancer Institute reports that the risk is even greater, with a one in three chance of a diagnosis for women.

The median age for a cancer diagnosis is 66 years old, with an increased risk as a person ages. Cancer is still a risk for younger women. Everyone should take their health and wellness seriously. Undergoing the recommended screenings and living as healthily as you can will extend your lifespan.

Have you scheduled your pap smear yet? Have you had a mammogram? If not, then it may be time to get your appointments scheduled. Make sure you know how to identify the early signs of cancer to give yourself the best chance for a good outcome.

Fatigue Even When Getting Enough Rest

Everyone feels tired now and again. This isn’t cause for concern. However, if you notice ongoing fatigue even when you had a good night’s rest and your usual cup of coffee, this can be a warning sign.

Fatigue isn’t a guarantee that cancer is present, but it is something that should be looked at by a doctor. Feeling tired can also be a sign of stress, a side effect of medication, or a symptom of other health conditions.

Anytime your energy levels drop for no reason and stay low, seek medical advice. Fatigue can also occur due to:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Depression

Even if the cause isn’t life-threatening, you should still see a doctor. A medical professional can accurately diagnose the condition and provide treatment that helps you regain your energy.

A Lump or Swelling That Has No Obvious Origin

Never ignore a lump or unexplained swelling. Swelling can occur after an injury, but when it happens with no injury, you shouldn’t ignore it.

This is especially true when noticing lumps or swelling in the breast area. Many women know that breast lumps are associated with cancer, but they may not realize that itchy, red, or swollen breasts can also be a symptom.

Lymph nodes will also swell when the body is fighting an infection. This can be a sign of cancer.

Schedule a check-up right away if you notice any persistent lumps or swelling anywhere on your body. Also, be aware of changes in the nipples or nipple discharge. Both can indicate cancer.

Make sure you let your doctor’s office know what is happening when you schedule a gynecologist visit.

Pain or an Ache That Persists and Has No Known Cause

Pain is a part of life sometimes. We may wake up with a backache, pull a muscle, or suffer a minor injury that hurts. These will have a known cause. What happens when you experience pain with no known cause?

Pain that persists shouldn’t be ignored. Different types of cancer in women can cause aches and pains. Depending on the cancer, pain may occur in different parts of the body.

If you don’t know the cause or the pain won’t go away, you should talk to a doctor. A good rule of thumb is to monitor the situation for a couple of weeks. If the pain persists beyond that, you should consult a medical professional.

Cancer-related pain in women can occur anywhere, especially in the pelvic region and breasts. However, if the pain is happening elsewhere, you shouldn’t ignore it. For example, lower back pain can indicate a tumor on the spine.

Weight Loss Beyond Normal Weight Fluctuations

A woman’s weight will naturally fluctuate. You may weigh a little more after a big meal or less after you wake up in the morning before eating anything. Some days you may be more active and other days take in more calories. And sometimes it can be related to water retention.

On average, a woman’s weight may fluctuate by as much as five pounds daily.

If your weight is dropping more than that for no reason, this is cause for concern. Weight loss can be one of the first visible signs of cancer. Weight loss is associated with 10 types of cancer, including:

  • Colorectal
  • Lung
  • Gastro- oesophageal
  • Pancreatic
  • Ovarian
  • Myeloma
  • Renal tract

Vaginal Bleeding or Periods That Aren’t Normal

Normal periods will vary from one woman to the next. The average woman will become familiar with what is normal for her body over time.

If your bleeding seems unusual, this could be a red flag. Common changes that could indicate cancer include:

  • Post-menopausal bleeding
  • Spotting between periods
  • Unusually heavy bleeding
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Any irregular bleeding

Unusual bleeding is a symptom reported in 90% of women with endometrial cancer. These changes are even more concerning for women who are over age 40 when the cancer risk increases.

Early detection can minimize the impact endometrial cancer has on a patient.

Difficulty Urinating or During Bowel Movements

Difficulty with urination or bowel movements can be a sign of cancer. Occasional constipation or diarrhea may be normal due to dietary changes or a virus. These should resolve on their own with at-home treatment.

However, if the condition persists, you should not ignore it. Bowel changes could indicate colon or stomach cancer. It can also be a symptom of:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Diverticulitis

Urination can become difficult in cases involving cancer. This may appear as a weak urine stream, painful urination, burning or irritation while urinating, or frequent nighttime urination.

Blood in urine can also be a symptom but could be more challenging to identify in women who have irregular periods. If anything changes or you feel uncertain about what you are experiencing, the safest solution is to consult a gynecologist.

Pain During or After Sexual Intercourse

Dyspareunia, or painful intercourse, can occur when cervical cancer is present. Discomfort can be felt during or after intercourse.

Patients who are being treated for cancer should also be aware that chemotherapy and radiation can cause painful intercourse. Pain can also be the result of vaginal dryness even when cancer isn’t present.

Abdominal Bloating That Lasts for Weeks

Bloating is another common symptom that women can experience due to minor health problems or during menstruation. The abdominal region will feel uncomfortably full. Most cases of bloating will resolve on their own, usually relatively quickly.

However, if you experience bloating that lasts for more than a few weeks, seek medical attention. Bloating can be a symptom of ovarian cancer as well as gastrointestinal cancers.

Persistent Cough That Continues for Weeks

A persistent cough is another symptom that should not be ignored. This usually shows as a dry cough that can also cause wheezing, hoarseness, and shortness of breath. An ongoing cough can be a symptom of lung cancer.

Women who have had breast cancer should be aware that the condition can spread into the lungs. This is called metastatic breast cancer. Breast cancer cells can travel through the lymphatic system or blood to the lungs.

Anytime you experience an unusual change in your body, especially one that doesn’t go away, you should talk to a doctor. You should also learn about these 9 things every woman should know about osteoporosis. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you will be to take care of your health.