All women need to be vigilant about signs, but women in their 30s and older should pay particular attention to their bodies.
If you are relatively young and healthy, gynaecologic cancer signs probably aren’t on your radar, hence you’ve not paid attention. But they should be.
Statistics show many women in Africa are increasingly getting gynaecologic cancers such as endometrial also known as uterine, ovarian or cervical cancer.
All women need to be vigilant about signs, but women in their 30s and older should pay particular attention to their bodies. It’s crucial to know what symptoms to look out for.
Warning signs women shouldn’t ignore
1. Abnormal vaginal bleeding: More than 90 per cent of women who get endometrial cancer experience irregular bleeding. For post-menopausal women, any bleeding including spotting should be evaluated by the gynaecologist. For premenopausal women, bleeding between periods, heavy bleeding, or bleeding during intercourse should be evaluated.
2. Unexplained weight loss: If you have lost weight by exercising and eating healthy, keep up the good work! But if you haven’t changed your diet or exercise habits and lose over 5kgs, this could be a sign of cancer.
3. Being tired all the time: Most of us get run-down from juggling a busy week at work, running errands and taking care of our families. But ongoing fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest can be a sign of a bigger problem. If you are constantly tired for more than two weeks, don’t assume your busy life is the only cause.
4. Vaginal discharge coloured with blood: Bloody, dark or smelly discharge is most likely a sign of infection. But it can be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer too.
5. Swollen leg: If one of your legs look or feel swollen for no apparent reason, this may be the sign of advanced cervical cancer.
6. Feeling full all the time: Trouble eating or always feeling full are also common symptoms of ovarian cancer. Talk to your doctor if unintended changes in your eating habits lasts for more than two weeks.
7. Pain in the pelvis or abdominal area: If you experience constant pelvic or abdominal pain for more than two weeks, see your doctor.
8. A bloated belly: It is common to feel bloated after heavy eating or drinking especially during your menstrual cycle. But if that bloated feeling doesn’t go away even after two weeks or period is over, see your doctor.
9. Constantly needing bathroom breaks: Beware if you suddenly have to go to the bathroom all the time or need to take frequent or urgent bathroom breaks due to the pressure on your bladder. This is typically a sign of cancer.
10. Persistent indigestion or nausea: Occasionally, persistent indigestion or nausea can be a warning sign of a gynaecologic cancer. See your doctor if you find yourself feeling queasy more often than usual.
In many cases, these symptoms don’t mean you have cancer. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
See your gynaecologist if you have more than one of these symptoms for two weeks or longer.