Women's bodies are always changing. Sometimes changes that seem normal can be signs of cancer, though.
The key is to pay attention to your body so you can notice when something's different, says Robyn Andersen, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson CancerResearch Center in Seattle. "New symptoms indicate something has changed in your body, and you want to know what that means."
So, what should you watch for?
1. Breast changes
Most breast lumps aren't cancer, but your doctor should always check them. Let her know about these changes, too:Skin dimpling or puckeringNipples that turn inwardNipple dischargeRedness or scaling of your nipple or breast skin
To look for the cause of your symptoms, your doctor will do a physical examand ask you questions about your medical history. You may also have tests like a mammogram or a biopsy, when doctors remove a tiny piece of tissue for testing.
"Women are natural bloaters," says Marleen Meyers, MD, an oncologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. "It's OK to wait a week or two to see if it goes away."
If your symptoms don't get better with time, or if they happen with weight lossor bleeding, see a doctor. Constant bloating could be a sign of cancer, including breast, colon, gastrointestinal, ovarian, pancreatic, or uterine. 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.
3. Between-Period Bleeding
If you're still getting periods, tell your doctor if you're spotting between them. Bleeding that's not a part of your usual monthly cycle can have many causes, but your doctor will want to rule out endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of your uterus).
4: Skin Changes
A change in the size, shape, or color 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, Meyers says.
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