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Detecting Cancer Early On: Symptoms Women Need To Look Out For

In the fight against cancer, early detection is a very important step. If a person can identify the symptoms early on, it improves the chances of recovery. Here are some of the common symptoms that women should look out for.

1. Detecting Cancer Early On – Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is often very tricky to detect. As a result, ovarian cancer is usually not diagnosed until it is in its later stages. The human body starts showing symptoms as the cancer grows. In most cases, ovarian cancer is detected when people visit the doctor for a completely unrelated matter that turns out to be a symptom of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer causes the patient’s abdomen to swell up, combined with bouts of nausea, diarrhoea or constipation. The patient feels pain due to pressure in the abdomen and pelvic regions. In some cases, this is accompanied with shortness of breath and fatigue. Unusual vaginal bleeding can also be an indicator for ovarian cancer.

2. Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer does not cause symptoms until the cancer is at an advanced stage. Even when the symptoms do appear, they can mimic other ailments, causing cervical cancer to be misdiagnosed. Usually, a combination of the various symptoms is what alerts medical professionals to the possibility that the patient may have cancer.

The most common symptom of cervical cancer is unusual vaginal discharge, usually in heavy quantities. Though the type of discharge may vary from person to person, it is often foul smelling and contains mucous. Pain around the pelvis region and pain during urination are also symptoms of cervical cancer. Since cervical cancer is hard to detect, it is recommended that women routinely undergo a Pap smear test.

pregnancy and cancer detection

3. Breast cancer

Thanks to breast cancer awareness efforts around the world, it is usually detected early, thus allowing the patient a chance to make a complete recovery before any damage can be done. Women can perform self-examinations regularly to check for symptoms. The most noticeable symptoms of breast cancer can be detected visually; any change in the size or shape of the breast, as well as abnormal shrinkage or swelling is a sign that a health professional should be consulted.


When performing a physical self-examination, feel for lumps on the breasts. A lump does not necessarily mean that it is cancer, but it should be examined by a doctor nevertheless, as it could be a symptom of breast cancer. Unusual discharge from the nipples may also be an indicator of breast cancer, although such a scenario is quite rare.

4. Uterine cancer

Although uterine cancer shares many symptoms with ovarian and cervical cancer, it can be detected quickly if a medical professional is consulted as soon as a symptom appears. The most common symptom for uterine cancer is unusual vaginal bleeding, especially bleeding after menopause. A pain in the pelvic area during sex and unusual vaginal discharge are also symptomatic of uterine cancer.

Just because these symptoms show up does not mean a person is suffering from cancer. For example, brown vaginal discharge can be a sign of cervical cancer or indicators of a STD like chlamydia or gonorrhea. It is highly recommended that women see their doctor as soon as possible when any of these symptoms appear.

Jason Mayer is a health and medical advisor who specializes in women’s health and provides information about vaginal discharges including brown discharge. You can visit his blog for more information.

Midwife sonographer facilitated

Consultant Led, Centre of Medical Excellence 


All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.


This website was formerly Merrion Fetal Health. The clinic has undergone a rebrand and is now known as Merrion Ultrasound.