15 Cancer Symptoms Women Ignore
WebMD uncovers common cancer warning signs women often overlook.
No. 7: Blood in the Wrong Place
If you notice blood in your urine or your stool, don’t assume it's from a hemorrhoid, says Mishori. "It
could be colon cancer."
Expect your doctor to ask questions and perhaps order testing such as a
colonoscopy, an exam of the colon to look for cancer.
Seeing blood in the toilet bowl may actually be from the vagina if a woman
is menstruating, Mishori says. But if not, it should be checked to rule out
bladder or kidney cancer, she says.
Coughing up blood should be evaluated, too. One
occasion of blood in the wrong place may not point to anything, Mishori says,
but if it happens more than once, go see your doctor.
No. 8: Gnawing Abdominal Pain and Depression
Any woman who's got a pain in the abdomen and is feeling
depressed needs a checkup, says Lichtenfeld. Some researchers have found a link
between depression and pancreatic
cancer, but it's a poorly understood connection.
No. 9: Indigestion
Women who have been pregnant may remember the
indigestion that occurred as they gained weight. But indigestion for no
apparent reason may be a red flag.
It could be an early clue to cancer of the esophagus, stomach, or throat.
Expect your doctor to take a careful history and ask questions about the
indigestion before deciding which tests to order, if any.
No. 10: Mouth Changes
Smokers should be especially alert for any white patches inside the mouth or
white spots on the tongue, according to the
American Cancer Society. Both can point to a precancerous condition called
leukoplakia that can progress to oral cancer.
Ask your dentist or doctor to take a look and decide what should be done
No. 11: Pain
As people age they seem to complain more of various aches and pains, but
pain, as vague as it may be, can also be an early symptom of some cancers,
although most pain complaints are not from cancer.
Pain that persists and is unexplained needs to be checked out. Expect your
physician to take a careful history, and based on that information decide what
further testing, if any, is needed.
No. 12: Changes in the Lymph Nodes
If you notice a lump or swelling in the lymph nodes under your armpit or in
your neck -- or anywhere else -- it could be worrisome, Linden says.
"If you have a lymph node that gets progressively larger, and it's [been]
longer than a month, see a doctor," she says. Your doctor will examine you and
figure out any associated issues (such as infection) that could explain the
lymph node enlargement.
If there are none, your doctor will typically order a biopsy.