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15 Cancer Symptoms Women Shouldn't Ignore

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It's a good idea to see your doctor if you have a lump or swelling anywhere in your body that lasts a month or more, Meyers says.

7. Trouble Swallowing

Occasional trouble swallowing is nothing to worry about. But when it happens often, especially with vomiting or weight loss, your doctor may want to check you for throat or stomach cancer. 

He'll look into your symptoms with a throat exam and a barium X-ray. During a barium test, you drink a special liquid that makes your throat stand out on the X-ray.

8. Weight Loss Without Trying

Most women wish extra pounds would magically melt away. But losing 10 pounds or more without a change in your diet or exercise habits could signal a problem.

Most unintended weight loss is not cancer, Meyers says. "It's often caused by stress or your thyroid, but it can be a sign of pancreatic cancer," she says. Stomach and lung cancers are also possible. 

Your doctor may ask for a lot of tests to look for a problem, including blood tests and imaging tests, like a CT scan.

9. Heartburn

Too much food, alcohol, or stress (or all three) can cause serious heartburn. Meyers suggests that you change your diet for a week or two to see if your symptoms get better. 

If that doesn't help, talk to your doctor. Heartburn that doesn't go away or gets worse could mean cancer of the stomach, throat, or ovaries.

10. Mouth Changes

If you smoke, watch for white or bright-red patches inside your mouth or on your lips. Both can signal oral cancer. Ask your doctor or dentist about tests and treatment.

11. Fever

A fever that doesn’t go away and can't be explained could mean leukemia or another blood cancer. Your doctor should get the details of your medical history and give you a physical exam to check for the cause.

12. Fatigue

A lot of women are tired because they lead hectic lives. But extreme tiredness that won’t go away isn’t normal.

Talk to your doctor if your fatigue never gets better or if you have other symptoms, like blood in your stool. Your doctor will ask for your complete medical history and give you blood tests. 

13. Cough

Most coughs go away on their own in 3 to 4 weeks. Don't ignore one that lasts longer than that, especially if you smoke or are short of breath. If you cough up blood, go to the doctor. A cough is the most common symptom of lung cancer.

14. Pain

Cancer doesn’t cause most aches. But ongoing pain can signal bone, brain, or other cancers. Ask your doctor about any unexplained aches that last a month or longer.

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