Woman contemplating the warning signs of cancer

Cancer warning signs all women should know

Catching signs of cancer in women early is important for cancer care

Catching cancer as early as possible greatly improves your chances of beating it.

Early cancer detection gives health care providers better treatment options to use. Plus, the survival rate for patients is much higher when cancer is caught early, rather than during the later stages.

One way to help detect cancer early is to get all of your recommended cancer screenings.

Types of cancer women should know

Another important way you can help to catch any cancer early is to know the signs of cancer for women. There are a lot of cancers that can impact people of any gender, but women need to be aware of their risk for gynecologic cancers, like uterine and ovarian cancer.

Gynecologic cancers can impact women of all ages, too.

Then, of course, there is breast cancer. Men can get breast cancer, too, but the overwhelming number of breast cancer cases occur in women.

Gynecologic cancer warning signs

Common gynecologic cancer signs:

  • Abnormal bleeding, including post-menopausal bleeding or discharge
  • Bloating
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Changes in bladder and bowel habits
  • Lump or skin change in the groin area

There are other signs, too, that are more vague, and could be non-cancerous, so you may want to wait and see if the symptoms persist before talking to your primary care physician. These symptoms include:

  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest
  • Upset stomach

Breast cancer warning signs

“Most breast cancers are found by women themselves,” said Mary Stapel, MD, a physician at OSF HealthCare. “Self-examination is the most effective practice there is for catching breast cancer.”

Breast cancer signs:

  • Lump or bump in breast or armpit
  • Nipple changes, or other changes to skin over and around the breast

Other cancer warning signs

Many different types of cancer can impact different parts of the body. That means there are a lot of possible signs and symptoms. warning signs of cancer

Other cancer signs to watch for:

  • Fevers, night sweats or trouble regulating your temperature
  • Throat pain, coughing, hoarseness or trouble swallowing
  • Headaches and pain in the breast, armpit or groin
  • Sudden double or blurry vision

Many of the early signs of cancer can be harmless. So how can you tell if you have cancer? Well, there’s no way to know on your own. You’re going to need to speak with your health care provider.

“One isolated symptom doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer,” Dr. Stapel said. “But if any symptoms persist past a couple weeks, that’s when you should talk to your primary care provider.”

It’s also important to remember that some cancers early on have no visible signs – which is why getting your cancer screenings is so important. Screenings can often reveal signs of cancer before any symptoms begin to show themselves.

Last Updated: August 30, 2022

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About Author: Ken Harris

Ken Harris is the proudest father and was a writing coordinator for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare.

He has a bachelor's in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a daily newspaper reporter for four years before leaving the field and eventually finding his way to OSF HealthCare.

In his free time, Ken likes reading, fly fishing, hanging out with his dog and generally pestering his lovely, patient wife.

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Categories: Cancer, Women's Health