Women are more conscious of changes in their body, but they may not attribute some changes to cancer.
Here are some possible cancer symptoms women often ignore.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Many women would be delighted to lose weight without trying. But unexplained weight loss — say 10 pounds in a month without an increase in exercise or a decrease in food intake — should be checked out, Mishori says.
“Unexplained weight loss is cancer unless proven not,” she says. It could, of course, turn out to be another condition, such as an overactive thyroid.
Expect your doctor to run tests to check the thyroid and perhaps order a CT scan of different organs. The doctor needs to “rule out the possibilities, one by one,” Mishori says.
Bloating is so common that many women just live with it. But it could point to ovarian cancer. Other symptoms of ovarian cancer include abdominal pain or pelvic pain, feeling full quickly — even when you haven’t eaten much — and urinary problems, such as having an urgent need to go to the bathroom.
If the bloating occurs almost every day and persists for more than a few weeks, you should consult your physician. Expect your doctor to take a careful history and order a CT scan and blood tests, among others.
Most women know their breasts well, even if they don’t do regular self-exams, and know to be on the lookout for lumps. But that’s not the only breast symptom that could point to cancer. Redness and thickening of the skin on the breast, which could indicate a very rare but aggressive form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, also needs to be examined, Linden says. “If you have a rash that persists over weeks, you have to get it evaluated,” she says.
Likewise, if the look of a nipple changes, or if you notice discharge (and aren’t breastfeeding), see your doctor. “If it’s outgoing normally and turns in,” she says, that’s not a good sign. “If your nipples are inverted chronically, no big deal.” It’s the change in appearance that could be a worrisome symptom.