None of us want to think about the possibility of having cancer. For the most part, if we feel healthy and look healthy, the idea is far from our mind. Minor aches and pains, small abnormalities, things that seem a bit off – they are easy to look past or dismiss. Women are often so focused on their career, caring for their family, keeping a household running or a myriad of other things that there is very little time to take notice of health issues. Sometimes the dismissal is so instantaneous or subconscious that women do not even realize they are doing it. But, when it comes to cancer, it is critical that you do not dismiss some common cancer symptoms. The best way to equip yourself to notice changes is to periodically give yourself a self examination, learn how your body looks and feels so that you will be able to more easily notice when things change. If you experience any of the following symptoms, while they may be nothing significant, it is best to speak to a physician as soon as possible because they may be symptoms of cancer that should not be ignored.
1. Breast Changes
- One of the most important things a woman can do is watch for any breast changes taht may occur. This can include changes in size or shape, lumps, dimpling, puckering, nipples that turn inward, nipple discharge when not nursing, redness or scaling anywhere on the breast or nipple.
2. Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
- A significant symptom of endometrial cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. While this may be more difficult to determine in menstruating women, in women who have undergone menopause, any bleeding, including spotting, should be discussed with a physician. Additionally, this includes any discharge that is spotted with blood.
3. Blood in Urine or Stool
- Blood in urine or stool can occur for a wide variety of reasons including infection or hemmorhoids. No matter what the reason, it is abnormal and should be discussed with a physician.
4. Change in Mole
- Any skin changes, but especially changes in the size, color or shape of a mole, is cause for concern. If moles appear crusty, scabby or ooze, this is also a potential symptom of cancer. Periodically check your skin and make note of how moles look so that you can notice changes. Additionally, ask a friend, partner or spouse to help you check areas that are not easily visible for yourself.
- Many women complain of bloating from time to time, persistent or prolonged bloating may be cause for concern. A feeling of constant bloating or constipation should be discussed with a physician because these symptoms are a common sign of ovarian cancer.
6. Unexpected Weight Loss
- While many women would probably love to discover they have lost some weight, not all unexplained weight loss should be celebrated. If you have not made any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle, and you have not experienced any major changes or stress and yet you find you have suddenly had unexpected weight loss it is important to address it with your physician as it could be a symptom of leukemia or lymphoma.