Tag Archives: lung cancer

10 signs of cancer women shouldn’t ignore

From WebMD:

Beth Y. Karlan, MD, director of the Women’s Cancer Research Program at Cedars-Sinai’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute in Los Angeles, says warning signs do not mean cancer, even if you have all of them. But if your symptoms are “persistent and progressive, meaning you wake up every morning and feel something and it has you worried — even for two weeks in a row — it really is worth calling your physician and having it checked out.”

Regular checkups and screenings such as Pap smears and mammograms, as well as knowing your own body, are all crucial for good health.

Which changes are worth bringing to your doctor’s attention? Here are ten signs experts think you should keep on your radar screen.

1. Breast Changes

If you feel a lump, you shouldn’t ignore it, even if your mammogram is normal. If your nipple develops scaliness or flaking, that could indicate Paget’s disease of the nipple, which is associated with an underlying cancer in about 95% of cases. Any milky or bloody nipple discharge should also be checked out. Dimpling of the skin over the breast, particularly if it looks like the skin on an orange, is something to be worried about. Such dimpling is most often associated with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare, usually aggressive cancer characterized also by swollen, hot, red breasts.

2. Irregular Bleeding 

Once you hit menopause (defined as 12 months without a period), any postmenopausal bleeding is a warning sign. Any bleeding, staining, little drops on your underwear, or big clots are abnormal and should be immediately investigated. Such bleeding could indicate something as benign as an endometrial polyp or something more serious like endometrial or cervical cancer.

Bleeding that is uncharacteristic for you — spotting outside of your normal menstrual cycle or heavier periods. Around menopause, abnormal bleeding is often attributed to hormonal shifts, though more serious problems could be the cause, which is why all abnormal vaginal bleeding should be evaluated. Expect to receive a transvaginal sonogram and perhaps a biopsy.

3. Rectal Bleeding 

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in women. One of the hallmarks is rectal bleeding, which many people attribute to hemorrhoids, the most common cause. But it’s not always that. Red or dark blood in your stool warrants a visit to your doctor. Your doctor will likely do a rectal exam and order a colonoscopy if you’re 50 or older and perhaps even if you’re younger.

4. Discharge 

A foul or smelly vaginal discharge could be a sign of cervical cancer. The discharge may contain blood and may occur between periods or after menopause. It’s best not to self-treat a discharge with over-the-counter medications. An exam is necessary to determine if the discharge is due to an infection or something more serious.

5. Bloating 

Ovarian cancer is the No. 1 killer of all the reproductive-organ cancers.  The four most frequent symptoms are bloating; feeling that you’re getting full earlier than you typically would when eating; changing bowel or bladder habits, such as urinating more frequently; and low back or pelvic pain. Pay attention if you have two or more symptoms occurring daily for more than two weeks. If they’re persistent and progressive, call your physician. Expect a pelvic exam, transvaginal sonogram, and perhaps a CA-125 blood test to check for cancerous cells.

6. Unexplained Weight Gain or Loss 

Gaining excess weight month to month — especially if you usually maintain a normal weight and watch what you eat — can be due to an accumulation of fluid in the belly related to ovarian cancer and warrants seeing your doctor. Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, and is most often associated with pancreatic, stomach, esophagus, or lung cancer. But weight loss in women is often caused by a hyperactive thyroid. Expect your doctor to order a thyroid test first to check for this common disease.

lungs

7. Persistent Cough 

Any persistent cough — one that lasts more than two or three weeks and is not due to an allergy or upper respiratory infection or one that produces blood in the sputum– needs to be checked by your doctor. If your cough may be caused by smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke, get it checked out. Smoking is the number one cancer killer of women, but you don’t have to be a smoker to be at risk. Expect your doctor to order a chest X-ray and perhaps a CT scan.

8. Change in Lymph Nodes 

If you feel hard lymph nodes in your neck or under your arm, you should be seen by a doctor. Swollen, firm lymph nodes are often the result of an infection. However, lymphoma or lung, breast, head, or neck cancer that has spread can also show up as an enlarged lymph node. Expect a physical exam and possibly a biopsy.

9. Fatigue 

Although fatigue can be hard to quantify, the American Cancer Society defines it as “extreme tiredness that does not get better with rest.” If you’re persistently fatigued, see your doctor. Leukemia, colon, or stomach cancer — which can cause blood loss — can result in fatigue. Fatigue can be a serious problem and it’s easy to ignore. Your doctor will most likely do a physical exam and order blood tests to evaluate your thyroid and rule out a thyroid condition.

10. Skin Changes

Keep an eye on any changes you notice on your skin all over your body, and call your doctor right away if anything concerns you. Sores in the mouth that don’t heal — especially if you smoke or drink alcohol – may be a sign of oral cancer and should be examined by your physician. In particular, note any sores or irritated skin in the vaginal area. A nonhealing vulvar lesion could be a sign of vulvar cancer. Changes in moles or pigmented lesions on the vulva can also signify cancer. Vulvar melanoma can frequently be overlooked and can have a very aggressive course. A simple biopsy can be done in your doctor’s office if necessary.

~Eowyn

5 surprising signs of cancer

Charlotte Libov reports for NewsMax Health, Dec. 18, 2012, that a top cancer surgeon says we mistakenly focus on pain as a sign of cancer. Instead, tip-offs to common types of cancer are generally not pain, but other signs, such as a new cough or a new lump on the body. Sometimes, pain occurs only after the cancer has spread.

Vadim Gushchin, M.D., a cancer surgeon at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center’s Institute for Cancer Care, says to watch out for symptoms like the five listed below. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, but you’ve never experienced them before, although the likelihood is that you don’t cancer, you should get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.

1. Sudden Shortness of Breath

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, responsible for nearly 158,700 deaths a year. Sudden shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue, and trouble swallowing are sometimes signs of early lung cancer. Coughing up blood-tinged phlegm is a symptom that should get immediate attention. While coughing is the number one symptom of lung cancer, the problem is that nearly all smokers cough. And, although they are in the minority, people who have never smoked, especially those exposed to second-hand smoke or radon, can get lung cancer as well.  Smokers should undergo regular low-dose lung CT screening to catch any possible cancers as early as possible.

2. Unexplained Tiredness

Colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths, kills 50,000 people a year, or one person every 9.3 minutes, and it kills men and women equally. Symptoms include changes in the stool and bathroom habits, and fatigue. Because tumors bleed, the loss of blood can cause weakness and tiredness. People who smoke, drink alcohol excessively, and those who eat a diet high in red meat and low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain are at a higher risk.

3. Sudden Waist Size Gain

Difficulty fastening clothing over a waistline that’s suddenly expanded may not be a sign of overindulgence, but bloating, which can be an early symptom of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer kills more women each year than any other reproductive cancer, in part because early symptoms tend to be vague. However, bloating of a swollen belly, along with difficulty eating, feeling full quickly, abnormal menstrual cycles, gas, or pelvic or lower abdominal pain can be signals of the disease.

4. Yellowing of the Skin

Pancreatic cancer, a particularly deadly cancer, typically spreads with few symptoms. This is why, although fewer than 44,000 develop it each year, pancreatic cancer ranks as the nation’s fourth leading cancer killer. One signal is a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes. As pancreatic cancer grows, it may block the bile duct that carries bile from the liver to the duodenum. This causes jaundice, which in turn leads to skin yellowing. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, and abdominal pain.

5. Itchy Breasts

Most women dread finding a lump in their breast because it is the classic sign of breast cancer. But the first symptom of inflammatory breast cancer, a less common form of the disease, is an irritated, itchy breast.

~Eowyn