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15 Cancer Symptoms Women Often Ignore

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Skin Changes

A change in the size, shape, or color of a mole or other spot is a common sign of skin cancer. See your doctor for a thorough exam and perhaps a biopsy. This is one time you don’t want to wait, Meyers says.

Blood in Urine or Stool

Talk to your doctor if you’re bleeding from a part of your body that normally doesn’t, especially if the bleeding lasts more than a day or two, Meyers says. Bloody stool is often from hemorrhoids, but it can also be a symptom of colon cancer. Bloody urine is usually the first sign of cancer of the bladder or kidneys, says Herbert Lepor, MD, a urologist at NYU’s Langone.

Lymph Node Changes

Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped glands around the body. Most changes in them come from common infections. But some cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, can also cause lymph nodes to swell. 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.

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.

Random Weight Loss

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fatigue

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.

Change in Urination

Urinary symptoms can include frequent urination, small amounts of urine, and slow urine flow or a general change in bladder function. These symptoms can be caused by urinary infections (usually in women) or, in men, by an enlarged prostate gland.

Unexplained Pain

Pain can be a result of numerous conditions, but ongoing pain which is unexplained and lasts a month or longer can signal bone, brain, or other cancers. Ask your doctor about any suspicious prolonged and unexplained pain.

Coughing

This is probably one of the most mundane and diverse symptoms on the list. There are a ton of different reasons that people cough, and more often than not they are trivial and temporary in nature. It’s when the cough persists over the course of weeks that someone should voice concern.
If you find yourself in pain or short of breath during a cough it could be serious. If you cough up blood, it is serious. Smokers should pay particular attention to coughing, as it’s the most typical sign of lung cancer.

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