Diagnostic tools in the medical community have improved so drastically in the past few years that women are more likely to catch cancer before it spreads. Early diagnosis of cancer is key to making a full and complete recovery. The best way to catch cancer early is to keep a look out for the signs and symptoms associated with different types of the disease. These twenty symptoms cover the bases for most types of cancer for which women are at risk.
Abnormal Menstrual Cycle
This is a very commonly overlooked symptom, particularly for women with irregular cycles. An ultrasound can distinguish between uterine cancer and other less serious causes of unusual bleeding.
A Cough and Constant Chest Pain
A nagging cough and chest pain can be a persistent upper respiratory infection. It is also associated with lung cancer. Women should consult their doctor to rule out the possibility of cancer.
Bloating and Weight Gain
These are both normal after a period of consuming an excessive amount of calories. The time to have bloating or weight gain examined by a medical professional is when they appear suddenly with no apparent cause. This could be a sign of fluid buildup in the abdomen, another early warning sign of cancer.
A healthy digestive system produces stool free of blood. When feces contain signs of bleeding, always consult a physician.
Changes in Breasts
One of the first signs of breast cancer is a sudden change in breasts. Women generally are aware of the breast changes they experience as part of a normal menstrual cycle. If redness, soreness, change in size or extreme nipple changes occur, these are all signs of breast cancer.
Changes in Fingernails
Fingernails are an underutilized indicator of overall health. Keep an eye out for any drastic nail changes. These include changes in shape, color or variation.
Changes in Skin
Skin cancer symptoms take many different forms. Any unusual lumps or abrasions need to be examined by a dermatologist. It is particularly important to have them checked if they frequently scab over, bleed or never heal.
Constant Bleeding and Bruising
Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with some type of blood cancer. Excessive bleeding and bruising are warning signs that can lead to an early diagnosis.
Any new respiratory symptoms need to be taken seriously. Many types of cancer, including lung cancer, affect pulmonary functions. These are particularly easy to miss in women with allergies.
A suddenly swollen face accompanied by other symptoms is almost always a bad sign. Early signs of lung cancer include dilated arteries, which can cause discoloration and swelling in the facial area.
A body that is fighting cancer cells will have a lowered immune function, which is a prime opportunity for infections to take hold. A series of unexplained infections should be immediately investigated.
Stomach Cramps and Nausea
These symptoms are generally not a cause for concern. Everything from gas to viral infections can produce gastrointestinal discomfort. The time to be concerned is if the onset is sudden, unexplained and accompanied by other cancer symptoms.
Sudden Loss of Appetite
This is one of the classic symptoms of ovarian cancer. Unless there is an accompanying infection, appetite is generally stable. Any drastic changes should be noted and discussed with a physician.
Swollen Glands and Lymph Nodes
Swollen lymph nodes and unexplained lumps should always be taken very seriously. It is important to have a doctor examine them as soon as they appear.
Lymph nodes that are slightly swollen can make swallowing difficult. If you are having trouble swallowing, it is important to consult your doctor.
Unusual Abdominal Pain
Most major organs are in the abdominal area, so unusual pain around the middle can be a sign of something gone seriously wrong. Patients with liver cancer, ovarian cancer and leukemia reported uncommon pain and cramping in their abdomen as early signs of their illness.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Just under half of cancer patients report noticing the pounds dropping off quickly for no reason. This is one of the surest early signs of cancer.
Unexplained Back Pain
Back pain is not uncommon, but unexplained back pain can be one of the earliest signs of liver cancer. Any unusual back pain warrants a trip to the doctor.
Weakness and Fatigue
Weakness and fatigue can be caused by a variety of harmless illnesses, changing medications or stress. Excessive symptoms of fatigue or difficulty performing small tasks could be an early warning sign of cancer.
A sudden onset of one or more of these symptoms should be taken seriously. Immediately consult a doctor at the first appearance of any of these symptoms.