You may have often heard of cases where cancer strikes suddenly and within a few months, the victim succumbs. More often than not, these cases arise out of late detection of cancer rather than the sudden emergence of it. This can happen because most initial signs of cancer look similar to ordinary ailments and hence are ignored till the time they become really obvious and the cancer has spread beyond control. While cancer symptoms like persistent coughs, fatigue, body pains, sores that don’t heal or lumps that look suspicious are common to both sexes, there are certain gender-specific cancer signs as well that you should be aware of. Being aware alerts you to impending dangers before time runs out, and could even help save your life.
Cancer symptoms no woman should ignore
Any kind of abnormal or irregular vaginal bleeding should be probed. If you’re bleeding outside of your regular menstrual cycles or if you suddenly start experiencing heavier bleeding during your cycles, be sure to check with your doctor. Around menopause, abnormal bleeding may often be caused due to hormonal changes- but even then getting yourself checked is a wise idea just to rule out any ugly chances. Once you’ve hit menopause- which is generally considered as 12 months without cycles- any postmenopausal bleeding in the form of staining, clotting or drops- is suspicious and should be investigated by your doctor to rule out cervical or endometrial cancer.
Look out for these breast changes that may signal underlying cancer:
- A lump that’s strange or feels unusual
- Scaly or flaky nipples
- Milky or bloody nipple discharge
- Dimpling of the skin over the breast, to somewhat resemble the skin on an orange
- Any inflammation or swollen, red breasts
Do not ignore these even if you come through with a normal mammogram. Your doctor will likely advise a sonogram and if required a biopsy to rule out chances of breast cancer.
Any kind of abnormal vaginal discharge that occurs between your cycles; or after you’ve stopped menstruating needs to be inspected for cervical cancer.
If you have a feeling that you’re too full even when you’ve not eaten your regular bit, and the feeling persists for a length of time, do not brush it off. Bloating or feeling full earlier than usual might be a sign of ovarian cancers. Other ovarian cancer symptoms include urinating more frequently, experiencing a change in bladder or bowel habits, as well as lower back pain.
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more is one of the common cancer signs and symptoms, but with women an unexplained weight gain that continues over months may also be a sign of concern. This is especially more suspicious if you maintain a regular weight and are careful of what you eat- because then the weight gain may be due to accumulation of fluids in the belly- an ovarian cancer symptom.
Certain skin changes
Take note of skin changes all over your body, and in particular around the vulva and vaginal areas. Sores, irritated skin, any kind of moles or lesions that don’t heal warrant the doctor’s attention.
Cancer symptoms in men that should not be ignored
Changes in testicles
If one or both of your testicles feel heavier than usual, swollen or you can feel lumps on them, do not ignore them. They could be signs of testicular cancer.
Indigestion or trouble swallowing
Any kind of heartburn or burning sensation in the throat and chest should not be ignored. It might seem to be only from spicy food, but a prolonged sensation of this type could signal stomach, throat or esophageal cancer.
Changes in the mouth
If you smoke or chew tobacco, you also need to be aware of cancer symptoms from smoking. Watch out for any changes in the mouth such as white patches (inside the mouth or on your tongue), sores, unexplained bleeding or numbness and tenderness in your tongue, lips and cheeks. These could be signs of underlying oral cancer from smoking.