Cancer symptoms in women. Listen up!

Cancer symptoms in women. Listen up!

Women´s biology causes their bodies to be in a constant state of change, which makes it harder to detect certain changes that could be a warning sign of cancer. Remember, the earlier cancer is detected, the more chance you have of beating it.

Take note of any of the following changes:

1. Changes to the breasts 

If you find any sort of lump in your breast during a self-examination, consult your doctor. It may not be cancerous, but it is best to get it checked out as soon as possible. As well as growths, you may observe: dimples or wrinkles on the skin, the nipples look different to normal or are secreting liquid, redness or peeling of the skin around the nipples or breasts.

2. Swelling 

Women may experience swelling due to hormonal changes during their menstrual cycle, either in the lower abdomen or the ankles, or in other parts of the body. But if swelling or inflammation lasts for more than two weeks, you should consult your doctor. If the swelling occurs alongside other symptoms such as weight loss or bleeding, consult a doctor.

Constant swelling can be a sign of cancer, including breast, colon, gastrointestinal, ovarian, pancreas, or uterine cancer.

3. Bleeding between periods 

You should consult your doctor if you are experiencing any bleeding in between periods. Abnormal bleeding can be caused by various factors, one of which is endometrial cancer, which affects the tissue that covers the uterus.

If you no longer have a period, either due to menopause or because you have undergone surgery whereby your uterus was removed (hysterectomy), bleeding is not normal and you should see a doctor immediately.

4. Changes to the skin

We are constantly being exposed to dangerous UV rays from the sun. Any change in size, shape, color or appearance of a mole or freckle, as well as the development of new moles, are warning signs of skin cancer.

Learn how to give yourself a self-examination and find out whether your freckles or moles are suspicious so you can inform your doctor.


How to do it? What to look for?
  • Find a well-lit place
  • Stand in front of a full-length mirror
  • Start from your head to your feet
  • Don´t forget to check between the folds of the skin
  • Use a hand mirror for hard to reach areas
ABCD rule
Asymmetry– one half of the mole looks different to the other
Borders– unequal, irregular, blurred or jagged
Color – red, white and blue on black colored lesions
Diameter– measures over 6 millimeters or keeps growing in size.


Tell your doctor what you found during your self-examination to determine whether you need a full exam or possibly a biopsy.

5. Bloody urine  

Some foods contain pigments that can make it look like you have bloody urine, such as beetroot. However, if you notice that your urine has a bloody color which lasts for more than one or two days, you should consult your doctor.

Bloody urine is often the first sign of bladder or kidney cancer.

6. Changes to lymph nodes 

These small glands help to combat common infections and are found in the armpits, groin, neck, chest and abdomen.

Persistent inflammation or sensitivity in these areas (for one month or more) can be a symptom of lymphoma, which is the cancer that affects these glands.  

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7. Difficulty swallowing  

If it is often difficult or painful to swallow food, and if this is accompanied by vomiting or weight loss, your doctor may examine you for throat or stomach cancer. This condition is called dysphagia.

8. Unexplained weight loss 

Losing 5 kilos or more without making drastic changes to your diet or exercise routine is not a good sign.

Although unexplained weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean that you have cancer, it is better to see a doctor to rule out those types of cancers where weight loss is a common symptom, such as colon, stomach and lung cancer.

9. Heartburn 

Eating habits and a lack of regular physical activity can cause heartburn. So when is it a warning sign? If you adopt a healthier diet and your symptoms still haven’t improved after two weeks.

Heartburn that doesn’t go away or that gets worse with time, can be a sign of stomach, throat or ovarian cancer. Furthermore, persistent heartburn can damage the esophagus lining and this could increase your risk of developing throat cancer.

Don’t underestimate your symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as possible!

10. Changes in the mouth

It is a proven fact that smoking is bad for your health. You know that, right? If you are a smoker, take great care if you notice yellow, gray, white or bright red patches or ulcers inside the mouth or the lips.

Any of these symptoms could indicate mouth cancer. A dentist can alert you of these symptoms, just remember to get regular check ups.

If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible for testing and treatment.

11. Fever 

Fever, or a body temperature over 38℃, is a symptom of many illnesses. It indicates the presence of an infection.

A fever that does not go away or is unexplained, can be a sign of leukemia or another blood cancer. Your doctor must do a thorough examination to determine why this is happening.

12. Fatigue  

Tiredness can be caused by the many activities that a woman may carry out during the day. However, extreme fatigue that does not go away, is not normal.

See your doctor if your fatigue is not improving or if you present other symptoms, such as bloody stools. Your doctor will then ask you about your family history and will do a blood test.

13. Cough 

A common cough usually goes away by itself, without any treatment, within 3 to 4 weeks. A cough that lasts much longer than this should be looked at by a doctor.

If, on top of that, you are also a smoker or begin to have difficulty breathing, this is a sign of alarm. Tell your doctor immediately if you are coughing up blood, which could be a symptom of lung cancer.

14. Pain 

Constant pain, that does not disappear even when you take painkillers, could be a symptom of bone, brain or other types of cancer, especially those that have spread to the surrounding tissues or organs (metastasis).

See your doctor if you feel pain in any part of your body for no apparent reason and that doesn’t go away after a month or more.

According to the WHO, deficient diets are responsible for approx. 30 % of all cancers in women. Share this information with your daughter, sister, mother or friend and you could save their lives.