Women and cancer: 5 symptoms you should never ignore

Don't delay - see your doctor

mammography result
Some women prefer to struggle on in silence when they're unwell, but there are some symptoms you should never ignore. The following might be nothing to worry about, but they can also be a sign of cancer. See your GP if you notice any of the following:

A bloated tummy could be caused by PMS or IBS - or it could be ovarian cancer. If you suffer from bloating for more than a few weeks, or develop other symptoms such as abdominal or pelvic pain, feel full or sick when you haven't eaten much, or find yourself needing the toilet with urgency, see your GP.

The menstrual cycle is a natural part of a woman's life, but bleeding between periods can signal a problem. If you experience abnormal bleeding, particularly if you are usually regular, or are bleeding after the menopause, endometrial cancer could be the cause. Similarly, blood in the urine or stools may point to bowel cancer.

Breast changes
A lump in the breast isn't the only sign of breast cancer. A swelling of the lymph nodes under the armpit or neck, which gets bigger over several weeks, should always be checked out. A redness and thickening of the skin on the breast may indicate a rare form of cancer, and changes in the appearance of the nipple or rash that persists over several weeks should be seen by your doctor.

Unexplained weight loss
Losing weight where there has been no change in diet, exercise, or illness, can be a sign of cancer. Sudden, unexplained weight loss (10 pounds or more in four weeks) could also indicate other conditions, such as an overactive thyroid.

If you suffer from indigestion without some kind of trigger, such as a heavy or spicy meal, it may be an early sign of stomach, throat or oesophageal cancer. If you've been taking indigestion tablets for weeks, or find the problem is getting worse, see your GP.

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