For Women Only: Cancer Symptoms You're Most Likely to Ignore
6. Bloating or abdominal weight gain -- the "my jeans don't fit" syndrome
While this might sound too common a phenomenon to be considered a cancer symptom, consider this: Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer overwhelmingly report that unexplained abdominal bloating that came on fairly suddenly and continued on and off over a long period of time (as opposed to occurring a few days each month with PMS) was one of the main ways they knew something was wrong.
7. Feeling full and unable to eat
This is another tip-off to ovarian cancer; women say they have no appetite and can't eat, even when they haven't eaten for some time. Any woman who experiences noticeable bloating or weight gain numerous times (the diagnostic criteria is more than 13 times over the period of a month) -- especially if it's accompanied by pelvic pain or feeling overly full -- should call her doctor and ask for a pelvic ultrasound.
8. Pelvic or abdominal pain
Taken by itself, pelvic pain can mean a lot of things. In fact, because it's a common symptom of fibroids, ovarian cysts, and other reproductive tract disorders, doctors don't always think of cancer when you describe pelvic pain. Make sure your doctor looks at all possible explanations and does a full exam, since pain and cramping in the pelvis and abdomen can go hand in hand with the bloating that often signals ovarian cancer. Leukemia can also cause abdominal pain resulting from an enlarged spleen.
9. Unusually heavy or painful periods or bleeding between periods
Many women reported this as the tip-off to endometrial or uterine cancer. Unfortunately, many women also said their doctors weren't responsive, overlooking or misdiagnosing their complaints as normal perimenopause. Ask for a transvaginal ultrasound if you suspect something more than routine heavy periods.
10. Rectal bleeding or blood in stool
"I thought it was hemorrhoids" is one of the most common things doctors hear when diagnosing colorectal cancer. Blood in the toilet alone is reason to call your doctor and schedule a colonoscopy.