Today is World Cancer Day, 4th February 2020.
In recognition of this event, we encourage all women to be vigilant because cancer does not discriminate.
One in 6 women worldwide develops cancer during their lifetime.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, followed by lung cancer.
Women’s bodies are always changing. The key, therefore, is to know your body so you can pinpoint changes or differences that may occur. New symptoms indicate something has changed in your body, and you will want to know what that means.
So, what should you watch for?
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Nipples that turn inward
- Nipple discharge
- Redness or scaling of your nipple or breast skin
To look for the cause of your symptoms, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history. You may also have tests like a mammogram or a biopsy where doctors remove a tiny piece of tissue for testing.
Unfortunately, we women are “natural bloaters“. A different time in our cycle or different foods can induce bloating and hence it’s OK to wait a week or two to see if it goes away or is noticeable when we eat certain foods.
If your symptoms don’t get better with time, or if they happen with weight loss or bleeding, book an appointment with a doctor. Constant bloating could be a sign of cancer, including breast, colon, gastrointestinal, ovarian, pancreatic, or uterine cancers. Depending on other symptoms, you will undergo tests which could include a pelvic exam as well as blood tests, a mammogram, a colonoscopy, a CT scan or an ultrasound, to look for the cause of the problem.
Between Period Bleeding
If you still have periods, tell your doctor if you’re spotting between them. Bleeding that’s not a part of your normal or usual monthly cycle can have many causes, but your doctor will want to rule out endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of your uterus).
Bleeding after menopause is never normal and should be checked right away.
A change in the size, shape, or colour of a mole or other spot, as well as development of new spots, are common signs of skin cancer. See your doctor for a thorough exam and perhaps a biopsy. This is one time you don’t want to wait!
Know Your ABCDEs :
Asymmetry (one half of the mole doesn’t match the other), Border irregularity, Color that is not uniform, Diameter greater than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser), and Evolving size, shape or colour.
If you notice any CHANGE in size, shape or elevation of a mole, or experience any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting, see your
Blood in Your 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.
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, but further testing will need to be performed to be certain.
Changes in Lymph Nodes
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 and/or become tender.
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.
Weight Loss Without Trying
Most of us women wish extra kilos would magically melt away. But losing 4-5 kilograms or more without a change in your diet or exercise habits could signal a problem.
Most unintended weight loss is not cancer, it’s often caused by stress or your thyroid, but it can be a sign of pancreatic cancer. Tell your doctor so more tests can be performed. Other types of cancer such as colon, 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 PET or a CT scan.
Too much food, alcohol, or stress (or all three) can cause serious heartburn. By changing your diet for a week or two may improve your symptoms.
If that doesn’t help, talk to your doctor. Heartburn that doesn’t go away or gets worse could mean cancer of the stomach, throat, ovaries. Also, persistent heartburn can damage the lining of your oesophagus and lead to a condition called Barrett’s oesophagus. The condition raises the risk of developing throat cancer.
If you smoke, watch for yellow, grey, white or bright-red patches inside your mouth or on your lips. You could also develop a canker sore that looks like an ulcer with a crater in it. Any of these can signal oral cancer. Ask your doctor or dentist about tests and treatment.
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.
A lot of women are tired because they lead hectic lives. But extreme tiredness that won’t go away isn’t normal.
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.
Most coughs go away on their own in 3 to 4 weeks. Don’t ignore one that lasts longer than that, especially if you smoke or are short of breath. If you cough up blood, go to the doctor. A cough is the most common symptom of lung cancer.
Belly Pain and Depression
***Again, remember to be vigilant with your checks.
‘EVERY PERSON MATTERS AND EVERY ACTION COUNTS’
-Have annual checkups
-Take note of any new symptoms and tell your Doctor
-Have your annual or biannual checks such as smears, mammograms, mole checks etc…
-Reduce your Cancer risk with the following:
- stop smoking
- reduce alcohol intake
- maintain a healthy body weight
- exercise regularly
- eat well/maintain a healthy diet
- use skin protection (protective clothing, seek shady areas, wear a hat, wear sunscreen daily, wear sunnies)
***To that friend, and women everywhere fighting: We think of you everyday, and especially today – you are never forgotten, we are here if you need and want our support – please ask. We support your decisions, and we are so very sorry you are battling this disease.