Experts like Marry Daly, MD, oncologist, and head of the department of clinical genetics at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia say that women are generally more serious about their regular medical check-ups and screenings for cancer symptoms. But this is not always so, especially in the case of young women, who falsely possess the notion that only old people get affected by cancer and ignore any symptoms of it.
Hannah Linden, MD, a medical oncologist, who is the joint associate member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle says in this regard that some people also think that there is no point in going for the screenings, as cancer is incurable in any case.
Ranit Mishori, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington D.C. says that people should not be unduly alarmed about the symptoms.
Taking into account this propensity of people to ignore the cancer symptoms, which is mainly due to a fear psychosis; we sought the opinions of experts, as to which potential symptoms of cancer that should be checked out without being overly concerned about them.
Following are the 15 cancer symptoms that women generally neglect:
Weight Loss without any apparent reason
“If you lose weight without any apparent reasons like regular exercise, strict diet control, then it could be a symptom of cancer. It could also be due to an overactive thyroid, but doctors conduct CT scans of different organs to eliminate the possibilities of cancer.” Mishori says.
Bloating, although a common phenomenon, when occurs persistently for a few weeks, could also be due to ovarian cancer. Pelvic or abdominal pain, the feeling of fullness even after eating little food and the unreasonably urge to pass urine at short intervals are the other symptoms of ovarian cancer. In such conditions, doctors do a meticulous case study and conduct blood test and CT scan to make the diagnosis.
Changes in the breast
Apart from the lumps, thickening of the skin along with rashes that remains for weeks also constitutes the breast cancer symptoms. Similarly, in case of any changes in the shape of the nipples or any discharge even when you are not breastfeeding, consult your doctor. If the nipples are inverted conically, then there is no problem but, if they turn in, instead of pointing out and any other changes in their shape could be a concern.
In such cases, your doctor will do a thorough check-up and conduct a test like an ultrasound, mammogram, MRI and possibly biopsy.
Irregular and unusual bleeding
Women before their menopause generally do not give much importance to bleeding in between their periods. But such condition should be medically examined if you have normal periods. At times, women are also oblivious of the GI tract bleeding, possible colorectal cancer symptoms. The post-menopausal bleeding could also be due to endometrial cancer.
Debbie Saslow, Ph.D., director of the breast and gynecologic cancer at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta says in this regard, “The symptoms are case-specific. So, if any bleeding, which is not normal for you should be noted. Often, the abnormal bleeding is the early endometrial cancer symptoms, a common gynecological cancer, and the abnormal bleeding happens in almost 25 percent of cases.”
The doctors take note of the periodicity of the bleeding and conduct tests like ultrasound and biopsy.
Any change in the color and texture of the skin
Like the moles, any changes in the pigmentation of the skin should also be noted. Excessive scaling or sudden bleeding on the skin should also be medically examined. Experts say that if such conditions remain for several weeks, then you should consult your doctor.
Trouble in swallowing the food
In case you find it hard to swallow your food, you start to take to liquid diets like soup or protein shakes. But according to Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, difficulty in swallowing could also be the cancer symptoms of GI like esophagus.
Doctors do a chest x-ray and examine the GI tract in such cases.
Any unusual bleeding
“Passing blood in urine or stool could be due to bladder, kidney and colon cancer. Make sure the blood is not due to menstruation and consult your doctor. Don’t be under the impression that it is it from hemorrhoid,” says Mishori. Likewise, if you are coughing up blood more than once, consult your doctor.
Depression and pain in the abdomen
Some researches discover a link between depression and pancreatic cancer. So, Lichtenfeld advises going for check-ups, if you are depressed and have abdominal pain.
Indigestion, though a common problem with many people, when happens without any apparent cause could be an early sign of cancer of stomach, esophagus or throat. Doctors will conduct a detailed study of the case history and based on it, will do the necessary tests.
Changes inside the mouth
The American Cancer Society advises taking notice of any occurrence of white patches or spots inside the mouth or tongues, as they can be due to leukoplakia that can lead to oral cancer. People who smoke are more prone to develop it. Seek the advice of your dentist or doctor in such a condition.
With growing age, everybody gets aches and pains. But, pains at times can also be due to some form of cancer. So, any persistent and unexplained pain should be investigated.
Any change in the lymph nodes
Linden advises consulting the doctor if the lymph nodes in your neck or armpit swell progressively or develop lumps. The doctor, after a thorough investigation, will diagnose the ailments, which can be due to some infection. But if the normal tests are normal, it could be due to cancer and your doctor will probably conduct a biopsy.
Fever that continues unabated without any reason like influenza or any infection may be due to cancer. The American Cancer Society says that generally, people have a high temperature after cancer spreads to other parts of the body. It is also the early indicators of cancers like lymphoma or leukemia. Apart from fever, jaundice and the change in the color of the stool are also the symptoms of cancer.
The doctors will perform a thorough examination of the physical condition and history of the patients go for other tests like X-ray, CT scan, and MRI.
Feeling of exhaustion
Although people feel exhausted due to various reasons, fatigue without any apparent reason can also be the early sign of cancer. People feel exhausted and tired after cancer spreads over the body, but the American Cancer Society states that it can also be the early indicator of some cancer conditions like stomach or colon cancer and leukemia.
A cough is a minor problem and people generally cough when suffering from allergies, cold, flu or even after taking certain medication. But when it continues for a prolonged period of more than three weeks or a month, then medical advice should be sought. After examining the medical history, the doctors do a thorough check-up of the throat, the functioning of the lungs and conducts X-ray in case of smokers.
Cancer symptoms can come in different forms, trust your own instinct and go consult your physician if you feel something is not right.
Top 15 Cancer Symptoms Women Should Not Ignore