Breast cancer is the most feared cancer among women. Before now, everybody used to think cancer was the greatest killer, until corona came calling. Most people used to regard diagnosis of cancer as a death certificate, until recent cancer research, stated otherwise.
As we know, women’s bodies are always changing. Sometimes changes that seem normal can be signs of cancer, though. All we need to do is to pay attention to your body so we can notice when something’s different, says Robyn Andersen, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Below are symptoms you should watch out for.
1. Changes in your skin.
• A new spot on your skin, or one that changes size, shape or colour, could be a sign of skin cancer.
• Another is a spot, that does not look the same as all the others on your body.
• If you have any unusual marks, let your doctor check your skin. He will do an examination and may remove a small piece(called biopsy), to take a closer look for cancer cells.
2. Persistent and nagging cough.
• If you do not smoke, there is very little chance a nagging cough is a sign of cancer. Usually, it is caused by post-nasal drip, asthma, acid reflux or an infection.
• But, if your cough does not go away, or you cough up blood – especially if you are a smoker – consult your doctor.
• He may test mucus from your lungs, or do a chest x-ray to check for lung cancer.
3. Changes in the breast.
• Most changes in the breasts are not cancer. It is still important though to consult your doctor about them, and have him check them out.
• Let him know about any lumps, nipples that turn inward or discharge, redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, skin dimpling or puckering or pain in your breasts. He will do an examination, and may suggest a mammogram, MRI or may be a biopsy.
4. Abdominal discomfort or bloating.
“Women are natural bloaters,” says Marleen Meyers, MD, an oncologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It’s OK to wait a week or two to see if it goes away.”
• You may have a full bloated feeling because of your diet or even stress. But if it does not get better, or if you also have fatigue, weight loss or bleeding, back pain, please let your doctor check you out.
• Constant bloating in women may be a sign of ovarian cancer.
• Your doctor can do a pelvic examination to look at the cervix.
5. Difficulty in urinating
• Many men have urinary problems as they get older, like the need to go more often, leaks, or a weak stream. Usually, these are signs of an enlarged prostrate, but they could also mean prostrate cancer.
• Consult your doctor for an examination, and may be, a special blood test called PSA test.
6. Swollen lymph nodes.
• you have these small bean-shaped glands in your neck, armpits, and other places in your body. When they are swollen, it often means you are fighting an infection, like bacteria, catarrh or sore throat.
• Some cancers, like lymphoma and leukaemia can also cause this kind of swelling.
• Consult your doctor to pinpoint the cause.
7. Bloody stool or urine.
• If you see blood in the toilet, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor.
Bloody stool is often from hemorrhoids, but it can also be a symptom of colon cancer. Bloody urine is usually the first sign of cancer of the bladder or kidneys, says Herbert Lepor, MD, a urologist at NYU’s Langone.
8. Between-Period Bleeding
If you’re still getting periods, tell your doctor if you’re spotting between them. Bleeding that’s not a part of your usual monthly cycle can have many causes, but your doctor will want to rule out endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of your uterus).
Bleeding after menopause is never normal and should be checked right away.
9. Trouble Swallowing
Occasional trouble swallowing is nothing to worry about. But when it happens often, especially with vomiting or weight loss, your doctor may want to check you for throat or stomach cancer.
He’ll look into your symptoms with an an endoscopy (a lighted tube down your throat), a CT scan of your neck, chest, and abdomen or a barium X-ray. During a barium test, you drink a special liquid that makes your throat and stomach stand out on the X-ray.
10. Weight Loss Without Trying
Most women wish extra pounds would magically melt away. But losing 10 pounds or more without a change in your diet or exercise habits could signal a problem.
Most unintended weight loss is notcancer, Meyers says. “It’s often caused by stress or your thyroid, but it can be a sign of pancreatic cancer,” she says. Other types of cancer such as colon, stomach and lung cancers are also possible.
Too much food, alcohol, or stress (or all three) can cause serious heartburn. Meyers suggests that you change your diet for a week or two to see if your symptoms get better.
If that doesn’t help, talk to your doctor. Heartburn that doesn’t go away or gets worse could mean cancer of the stomach, throat, or ovaries. Also, persistent heartburn can damage the lining of your esophagus and lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. The condition raises the risk of developing throat cancer.
12. Mouth Changes
If you smoke, watch for yellow, gray, white or bright-red patches inside your mouth or on your lips. You could also develop a canker sore that looks like an ulcer with a crater in it. Any of these can signal oral cancer. Ask your doctor or dentist about tests and treatment.
A fever that doesn’t go away and can’t be explained could mean leukemia or another blood cancer. Your doctor should get the details of your medical history and give you a physical exam to check for the cause.
A lot of women are tired because they lead hectic lives. But extreme tiredness that won’t go away isn’t normal.
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