Common Cancers in Women

While there is no cure for cancer, adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting regular screenings can help women reduce their chances of developing the disease. The following is a list of the most common cancers in women, the warning signs and what women can do to help prevent each one.

Breast Cancer

Warning Signs

  • Change in nipple shape or inverted nipple
  • Nipple discharge
  • Breast pain not associated with your monthly period
  • Itchy skin or rashes on breast skin
  • Swelling under arms and around the collarbone.
  • Lumps that haven’t gone away since last period
  • Dimpled breasts
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Unexplained enlargement of either breast

Ways to Reduce Risk

  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Keep active/ exercise
  • Limit hormone therapies
  • Avoid exposure to radiation/ environmental pollution

Colon Cancer

Warning Signs

  • Diarrhea, constipation or change in stool consistency for more than four weeks
  • Blood in stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal cramps or gas pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling weak or fatigue

Ways to Reduce Risk

  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Keep active/ exercise
  • Eat an abundance of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

Endometrial Cancer

Warning Signs

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pink, or brown vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Painful intercourse
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lower abdomen pain

Ways to Reduce Risk

  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Keep active/ exercise
  • Taking oral contraceptives may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer (this should be discussed with your doctor)

Lung Cancer

Warning Signs

  • A persistent cough that does not go away
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain that worsens with deep breathing or coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Wheezing and hoarseness
  • Persistent bronchitis or pneumonia

Prevention Methods

  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid second-hand smoke
  • Avoid exposure to carcinogens
  • Avoid exposure to radon — tests can be conducted in your home to determine if you are being exposed.
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Keep active/exercise

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer typically does not have symptoms until it is more progressed — which is why it is crucial for women to get regular tests and screenings for HPV, one of the highest risk factors for cervical cancer.

Warning Signs

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding - bleeding between menstrual periods, periods that last long, heavier than usual menstrual flow, bleeding after sex, and bleeding after menopause
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Appendix pain
  • Leg pain and swelling
  • Unexplained weight loss

Prevention Methods

  • Have regular Pap tests
  • Practice safe sex
  • Get the HPV vaccine - talk to your doctor to determine if you are a candidate for this vaccine
  • Quit smoking

Skin Cancer

Warning Signs

  • Sores on the skin that won’t heal
  • Pigment that has spread from the border of a spot to a surrounding area of the skin
  • Redness or swelling outside the border of a mole
  • Tenderness, pain or itchiness of the skin
  • Changes to a mole — bleeding, oozing, scaling or bumps

Prevention Methods

  • Spot check by using the ABCDE’s of skin cancer
  • Stay out of the sun and avoid burning
  • Wear sunscreen every day
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • See a dermatologist once per year for screening

Ovarian Cancer

Warning Signs

  • Abdominal swelling/bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pelvic area discomfort
  • Constipation, diarrhea or other changes in bowel habits
  • Frequent urination

Prevention Methods

  • Take oral contraceptives - this should be discussed with your doctor
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Keep active/exercise

Early detection can save lives. While having any of the above symptoms does not mean you have cancer, it’s important to see your doctor and let him or her know of any changes and symptoms that you may be experiencing persistently.

At Parrish Healthcare, our goal is to educate our community about cancer prevention and the treatment options they have in the event of a cancer diagnosis. The Parrish Cancer Center offers the latest treatments, advances, and services in cancer screening, treatment, and care. Contact us today to learn more about how our comprehensive cancer program can help you or a loved one who has concerns about a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

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