✓ Evidence Based

14 Early Signs & Symptoms of Cancer in Women

Women’s bodies are very complex, going through a lot of changes, from menstrual cycles to menopause, pregnancies, and everything in between.

So, it’s important to keep an eye on any symptoms that might signal serious issues such as cancer. These could include bloating or irregular periods, among other things, as we’ll find out in this article.

Studies show that women who get regular screens for breast cancer, for example, have a 47% lower risk of fatal disease compared to those who don’t.

Signs & Symptoms of Cancer in Women

Early detection of cancer is one of the first actions that might help prevent or even cure the disease. Studies have shown that patients whose cancer is detected early on have a higher chance of complete recovery.

So, don’t ignore any unusual symptoms that might appear and watch out for these 15 signs of cancer most women ignore.

1. Unusual Bleeding

Vaginal or rectal bleeding is usually ignored by women. Between-period bleeding or bleeding from the GI tract can be mistaken for period bleeding especially if you don’t have a regular menstrual cycle.

More than that, unusual bleeding signs can often be so scary that women don’t want to admit they need serious checkups.

Bleeding after menopause is also a bad sign that might signal symptoms of endometrial cancer. So, don’t ignore it.

GI bleeding could be a symptom of colorectal cancer. In essence, if you notice any unusual bleeding or spotting in between periods, you should check with your physician. Perform all the appropriate screenings to prevent any serious complications.

2. Unexplained Weight Loss

In this day and age, most women would do anything to lose weight. However, losing 10 pounds in a month without any increase in exercise or calorie deficit is not a good sign.

Unexplained weight loss can be an early sign of cancer. Cancer cells use a lot of the body’s energy supply and that can trigger weight loss. Unexplained weight loss can also be because of an overactive thyroid amongst many other things. So, it is better to know what’s going on early on.

 

If you experience unexplained weight loss, go see a doctor, check your thyroid and perhaps get a CT scan done to rule out any possibilities.

3. Unusual Breasts Pain or changes

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the US. Know your breasts well and be on the lookout for any unusual lumps.

Redness or thickness of the breast skin can also mean inflammatory breast cancer. So, if you notice any of it, it’s best if you have a specialist examine it.

Moreover, if the aspect of your nipples changes or you notice unusual discharge, see a doctor immediately.

Breast aches are usually ignored by women because they are common during the menstrual cycle. However, they could also be an early sign of breast cancer.

So, the best way to prevent breast cancer is to take a few tests such as a mammogram, an MRI, and ultrasound.

You should have breast checkups every year together with your usual gynecological examination.

4. Changes in Moles or Freckles

We call moles beauty marks. Marilyn Monroe had one. Cindy Crawford has one. They’re intriguing, even fabulous. However, you should keep them in check.

Check your moles frequently and report these changes to your dermatologist. If any of one of your beauty marks is bleeding or if you’ve accidentally scratched one off, go see a doctor as soon as possible.

Any changes in moles or skin pigmentation can lead to skin cancer. Do not underestimate skin cancer. More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S every hour. However, if detected early, melanoma can be cured.

5. Chronic Pelvic Pain

Chronic pelvic pain can manifest through recurrent bloating, feeling full all the time and even difficulty urinating.

Bloating is common in women, especially before or during periods. So, it is easy to ignore it. For the same reasons, pelvic and abdominal pain might go as usual for most women.

Having these symptoms once in a while can be normal. But if they appear frequently, every day, week or month, you should go see a specialist.

Frequent bloating or chronic pelvic pain can point to ovarian cancer. Urinary problems such as the urgent need to go to the bathroom or the impossibility of completely emptying your bladder can also be signs of cancer.

6. Extreme Exhaustion

Do you feel the need to nap multiple times a day? Does it never go away, no matter how many coffees you drink or how many hours of sleep you get? This is extreme exhaustion and it bears no similarities to how you usually feel when you’re normally tired after a long day of work.
Intense fatigue can be an early sign of cancer. Cancel cells need all your body’s nutrients to grow and thrive and your body is no longer able to fully replenish. This is why you might feel tired all the time, no matter what you do.

If you notice any signs of unusual exhaustion or low motivation, depression, low energy levels, you should go see your physician.

7. Irregular Periods

Menstrual irregularities can also be a sign of cancer. Heavy bleeding and unusual pain during periods can point to fibroids.

Fibroids are usually benign growths in the lining of the uterus. Their presence there can cause a lot of problems to your menstrual cycle.

Unusual vaginal bleeding after intercourse or menstrual periods that last longer than normal or are heavier can be signs of cervical cancer. Do not take them lightly.

See your gynecologist once a year for a routine pelvic exam, and a Pap test which screens for cervical cancer.

8. Night Sweats

Women might associate night sweats with menopause. This is indeed one very common cause of night sweats for women. However, it is not the only one.
Night sweats can also be an early symptom of some types of cancers, like lymphoma. If they are followed by fever and weight loss, you should go see a specialist.

Night sweats can also signal infections like Tuberculosis or endocarditis amongst others. Inflammations in the bones, or abscesses can also cause night sweats. So, if they happen frequently, you need to get an examination and rule out all the possibilities, including cancer.

9. Lymph Nodes Swelling

Lymph Nodes swelling can also be a cause for concern. If you notice a lump under your armpit or in your neck or elsewhere, keep it under observation. If it doesn’t go away in a week or two, go see a doctor.

Lymph nodes are part of the body’s immune system. We find them in clusters throughout the body, from the neck to the axilla, chest, abdomen, and groin. They contain white blood cells that are our first line of defense against infection. The role of the lymph nodes is to filter the substances that travel through our lymphatic fluid.

So, when lymph nodes are swollen, it means there is a serious infection in the body. You need to have it checked.

10. Blood in the stool

Blood in the stool is a serious matter that most women tend to ignore. They might think it’s from their period or blame it on hemorrhoids or constipation.

It’s true, hemorrhoids are common amongst the population. In fact 75% of us will get them at some point in our lives. However, blood in the stool should not be ignored as it is not something normal.

Blood in your bowel movement can signal serious issues such as colon cancer.

11. Chronic Coughing

Coughing is another symptom that we ignore. You might think you have a cold, the flu, or an allergy and forget about it.

However, no coughing that lasts for more than two weeks is normal. If it is not followed by any other symptoms of cold, you should go check it out. It could signal lung cancer or leukemia.

When you cough up blood it might be already too late. So, don’t ignore coughing.

12. Chronic Headaches

If you have a history of migraines, you might ignore any sudden changes in how your headaches.

Nevertheless, headaches can signal that something is wrong in your body, and it could also be a sign of cancer or tumor. There’s no need to feel alarmed. In fact, go see a doctor to make sure you’re OK.

“Just a migraine” can sometimes be more serious than you’d think.

13. Mouth sores

If you suddenly feel a certain swelling, numbness, or pain in the jaw without any visible causes, go see a doctor.

If you’re a heavy smoker or drinker, you should do a self-check exam each month to make sure your mouth is clean from any red or white patches.

If you have any pain in the mouth or sore that doesn’t heal, go see your doctor. Mouth cancer can develop in any part of the mouth, from the lips to gums and even the throat. Sore mouth ulcers are the first signs that something is not right.

14. Urinary Issues

Urinary issues are more common in women than men. Women are more prone to get a urinary infection, and that’s why they also tend to ignore them if they occur often.

However, if you experience blood in the urine or a burning urge to pee at all times, you need to check with a doctor. It could be a simple urinary tract infection or kidney cancer.
Untreated urinary infections can move to the kidneys and lead to serious problems. So, go see a doctor. Don’t put it off.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you shouldn’t ignore any of these signs that might appear along the way. There’s no need to panic watching this video. Just don’t be in denial. Be calm, and go see a doctor.

Yearly gynecological examinations and breast screenings are advised for women of any age. They help prevent breast and endometrial cancer.

Keep an eye on your digestion and bowel movement as they can indicate the first signs of colorectal cancer.

Your skin is also important. So keep those beauty marks in check.

These seem like a lot to check, but they’re not. It’s your health we’re talking about and that should come first. Keep healthy and active, ladies!