10 Commonly Ignored Cancer Symptoms in Women

The following article summarizes ten symptoms of various forms of cancer that women tend to ignore. If you have any of the following symptoms, please consider seeing your doctor for a complete physical. This article does not constitute or replace medical advice.

1. Wheezing or shortness of breath, chronic cough, chest pain. Shortness of breath is one of the first signs patients with lung cancer notice. Leukemia and lung tumors can mimic a bad cough or bronchitis. If the chest pain extends up the shoulder or down the arm (ruling out a heart attack first), this could also be a sign of lung cancer.

2. Weakness and fatigue. Fatigue occurs early in certain cancers such as colon or stomach, but can also set in when a cancer begins to grow. Feeling exhausted without explanation is a sign of many different types of cancer, so if catching up on your sleep doesn’t help, see your doctor.

3. Bloating. This can be a sign of ovarian cancer. Women tend to ignore bloating, as it is such a common part of our cycles, but this can be dangerous. If your bloating is a daily occurrence and lasts for more than a few weeks, let your doctor know. Other signs of ovarian cancer include abdominal pain, pelvic pain and urinary problems.

4. Feeling full and unable to eat. This is a sign of ovarian cancer. If this is accompanied by bloating and pelvic pain, let your doctor know.

5. Pelvic or abdominal pain. This is a sign of ovarian cancer (see above) and can also be caused by
leukemia. Pelvic pain is often a symptom of reproductive tract disorders, but should not be dismissed. Abdominal pain that is accompanied by depression can also be indicative of pancreatic cancer.

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6. Unexplained weight loss. An unexplained weight loss of ten pounds or more in a month without dieting or increasing your exercise should be investigated. Your doctor will need to run tests to rule out the cause of this, which might be as benign as an overactive thyroid, but this could also be a symptom of cancer, including colon, digestive, or any cancer that has spread to the liver.

7. A red, sore, or swollen breast. Redness and thickening of the skin on your breasts can be a sign of a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer. Cellulite dimpling, swelling, or a breast that feels hot or irritated can also be signs of cancer. Any unexplained changes to your breasts should be examined by a doctor.

8. Nipple changes. If the look of your nipple changes (becoming flattened, inverted, or otherwise), or you have discharge from your nipples, this is a potential sign of breast cancer and needs to be looked at by your doctor.

9. Unusually heavy or painful periods or bleeding between periods. Between period bleeding can be a sign of endometrial cancer. Heavy bleedings can be endometrial or uterine cancer. Also bleeding from your GI tract, which can be mistaken for your period, can be a sign of colorectal cancer. Again, women tend to be dismissive of bleeding issues, especially if they have irregular cycles, but be cautious and take note of changes in your bleeding patterns so you can discuss them with your doctor.

10. Changes in your nails. This can be indicative of several types of cancer, including lung, skin, or liver. Watch for brown or black streaks or dots under the nail, clubbing (enlargement of the ends of your fingers) or very pale, white nails.

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