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10 Cancer Symptoms Women Should Be Aware Of: MD Anderson Center

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Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to gynaecological cancers such as ovarian, uterine and cervical cancers, symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain and abnormal vaginal discharge with traces of blood are the most talked about.

However, there are other symptoms in gynaecological cancers which are not taken seriously enough to seek an appointment with the doctor and which could lead to fatalities. (1)

The reason why some symptoms, though persistent, are ignored is because they are vague, overlap with other health conditions and could be dismissed as episodic and transient.

Here’s a list released by the country’s leading cancer care centre, MD Anderson, on what women should be wary of if the symptoms persist beyond a couple of weeks:

1. Unexplained weight loss: This is a cause for alarm especially if the woman loses more than 10 pounds in a few weeks without any increase in physical activity/exertion, undertaking a strenuous exercise regime or undergoing a diet to which the weight loss may be tracked back to.

2. Swollen leg: If the legs are frequently swollen accompanied by abnormal vaginal discharge and vaginal pain, it could be a sign of cervical cancer developing in the body.

3. Consistent fatigue: Though fatigue that does not wear off could also point to chronic fatigue syndrome, the starting of this symptom without any prior history of it should tell you to get yourself examined.

4. Frequent visits to the toilet: If a woman has a frequent need to visit the bathroom due to bladder pressure, and this is accompanied by abdominal bloating, nausea abdominal pain and feeling full, then this may be a sign of cancer.

5. Bloating: Women tend to retain fluid just before and during periods that can cause a mildly bloated look especially in the abdomen region. However, if the belly looks and feels bloated beyond this time - i.e., after the periods are over, then it would be wise to see a doctor.

6. Feeling full: This is a common symptom in cases of ovarian cancer. The person may either lose appetite or may feel full too soon after starting their meal or may eat too little. Such symptoms would continue for a few weeks without subsiding.

7. Persistent nausea: If one feels queasy often and for a few consecutive weeks without any significant change in lifestyle and diet habits then it would be a good idea to see a doctor.

8. Vaginal discharge with traces of blood: Younger fertile women should be wary of heavy bleeding, bleeding between two successive periods and bleeding during vaginal intercourse. It is a signal to get the bleeding checked.

Older women who have undergone menopause should not take any bleeding, including spotting lightly, and must have it checked out.

9. Abnormal vaginal discharge: If you notice that the vaginal discharge at any age is dark, includes spots of blood, or has an offensive odour, it would be smart to seek a gynaecologist’s appointment.

10. Lower abdominal pain: Pain in the pelvic region or pressure can point to uterine cancer. Persistent discomfort that feels like gas, acidity, bloating, cramps or spasm may signify ovarian cancer.

As per Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, “Remember, having one or more of these symptoms doesn't mean you have cancer, but if they last two weeks or longer, see your doctor. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry.” (2)


1. Ten Gynaecologic Cancer Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore; Science Daily; January 2012; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120105161748.htm

2. Ten gynaecologic cancer symptoms women shouldn’t ignore; University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center ; January 2012; http://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/news-releases/2012/cancersymptomswomen.html


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman – Tips From A Sufferer: ISBN: 978-81-291-1517-1 (Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2), Mentor Your Mind – Tested Mantras For The Busy Woman: ISBN: 978-81-207-5973-2 (Publisher: Sterling Publishers; URL: http://www.amazon.com/Mentor-Your-Mind-Tested-Mantras/dp/8120759737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316063179&sr=8-1) and the upcoming The Women’s Complete Fitness Guide (Publisher: Hay House India).

She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health.

Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Please visit www.mamtasingh.com
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Reviewed February 9, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

Dear Anonymous Thank you for sharing information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Knowledge is empowerment. Best Regards, Mamta February 10, 2012 - 11:44am
EmpowHER Guest

This is an excellent article because many times doctors dismiss common, undifferentiated symptoms as trivial or all in the patient's head.

The suggestion that extreme fatigue persisting for at least a month could be chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, (ME/CFS) is a good one. To be even more precise in order to be diagnosed with ME/CFS the patient must have post exertional exhaustion lasting 24 hours or more and unrelieved by rest. ME/CFS patients need not run a marathon for this specific form of fatigue. Doing the dishes or walking the dog can bring it on.

ME/CFS is far more than just post exertional exhaustion unrelieved by rest. It must be part of a specific pattern that includes substantial memory and concentration problems as well. Other parts of the necessary pattern of symptoms may include muscle aches, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity and unrefreshing sleep.

Cancer if caught soon enough can be treated and possibly cured. There is no cure for ME/CFS and no treatments that work for all patients.

February 10, 2012 - 7:06am
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