Too often women dismiss subtle symptoms that can help diagnose and treat cancer at an early stage. Be aware of these commonly overlooked signs that warrant attention and perhaps medical advice.
Keep in mind that having any of these symptoms does not mean cancer is necessarily present. Other diseases or temporary illnesses can also cause some of these symptoms. Still, don’t be shy about discussing these particular concerns with your doctor when they appear. It could be nothing, but bringing it up could also save your life.
1. Nipple or breast changes on one side—Early signs of breast cancer can include any redness, swelling, discharges, dimples, lumps, puckerings or rough spots; also flattened, inverted or turned nipples.
2. Unusual bleeding/spotting or discharge from vagina, rectum on in urine—Symptoms could be accompanied by pain or unpleasant odors and includes unexpected, painful and unusually heavy periods, bleeding after intercourse or blood in the urine. Unusual bleeding can be a warning sign of cervical, uterine or colorectal cancers.
3. Change in bowel or bladder—Symptoms include continual constipation, diarrhea, or stomach aches; also more frequent urination or pain while urinating or while having a bowel movement. These symptoms can sometimes be related to colon, bladder or kidney cancers.
4. Sudden or recurrent bloating, abdominal/pelvic pain—Look for an on and off “my jeans don’t fit” syndrome that is not related to the menstrual cycle; also, pain or abdominal tenderness and feeling full or unable to eat. These subtle signs may indicate ovarian cancer—one of the more difficult cancers to catch in early stages.
5. Unexplained weakness, weight loss or gain that is not associated with changes in activity or diet can be symptoms of colon cancer or other digestive system cancers.
6. Persistent sore throat, cough or hoarseness that isn’t a cold—These symptoms could include chest pain or ear ache and may indicate early stage lung cancer, some leukemias or throat cancer.