Cancer is one of India’s biggest killers – second only to heart disease. The warning signs of gynecologic cancers can be vague and similar to those of other conditions. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding. More than 90% of women diagnosed with endometrial cancer experience irregular bleeding. If you have already undergone menopause, any bleeding, spotting included should be evaluated. Haven’t gone through menopause yet? See your doctor if you experience bleeding between periods, heavy bleeding or bleeding during sex. This can also be a sign of cervical or vaginal cancer.
- Abnormal Niple size: Make it a point to regularly inspect your breasts for physical changes like abnormal lumps and dimples. Sudden Nipple discharges and inversions accompanied by redness and scaling can also be telltale signs of breast cancer. Contact a trusted physician as soon as you notice these signs.
- Change in bowel habits may be a sign of something externally pressing on the colon. This could be any advanced stage gynecologic cancer or other cancers.
- Bleeding after menopause: Any amount of bleeding after the cessation of periods for a year,post the age of 40 is to be taken seriously as this could be the first symptom of a uterine or cervical cancer. A visit to the gynecologist will involve a detailed history and examination;a Pap smear to look at the cells of the cervix under the microscope and a transvaginal ultrasonography to check the thickness inner lining of the uterus and to rule out abnormal growths within the uterus.
- Droopy upper eyelid: A droopy upper eyelid can be a sign of aging, injury, or disease. It can also alert doctors to the presence of a so-called Pancoast tumor at the very top of your lung. Smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke or asbestos are at higher risk of developing this type of lung cancer. Cough is not an early symptom. One of the first signs can be severe shoulder pain. Some people develop Horner’s syndrome, a triad of symptoms including a droopy eyelid, constricted pupil, and loss of sweating on the same side of the face.
- Pain in the pelvis or abdominal area: Ongoing abdominal pain or discomfort — including gas, indigestion, pressure, bloating and cramps — can signal ovarian or endometrial cancer.
- Swelling in your lymph node: Some cancers can cause swelling in your lymph node glands. These nodes help filter harmful contaminants from your body and can usually swell up as a response to a particular infection. They can also, however, get enlarged due to cancers like Leukemia and Lymphoma. Contact your physician if you notice swelling in areas under your arms, neck and groin. Especially if they refuse to subside in 3-4 weeks.
- Persistent Heartburn: Overindulging in food and alcohol or stressing at work can lead to issues like chronic heartburn. This can sometimes end up becoming a persistent problem that can cause major damage to you inner esophageal lining as well as raise your risk of developing cancers of the throat,stomach and ovaries.
- Persistent indigestion or nausea: Occasionally, persistent indigestion or nausea can signal gynecologic cancers. Play it safe, and see your doctor if you feel queasy more often than usual.