Women have to watch out for a barrage of gynaecologic cancers. Two of the most common are cervical and ovarian cancers. Unfortunately, many women are diagnosed with these cancers after the disease has reached a serious stage, according to the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Continuing Education. This is because both cancers do not typically produce resounding symptoms and side effects until the cancers have metastasised. Some victims do experience symptoms, however, which is why it's so important to identify the specific signs and symptoms of these cancers. While some women initially might not be aware of any symptoms, upon looking back, they are sometimes able to identify minor discomforts or other signs that were present in the earlier stages of cervical or ovarian cancer.
Abnormal bleeding is one of the primary symptoms of a gynaecologic cancer such as cervical or ovarian. It is most common in post-menopausal women, but can occur in pre-menopausal women between periods, or in the form of excessively heavy periods. Bleeding after sexual intercourse can be a sign that cancer is present, as well. Note, however, that many other conditions such as pregnancy, starting or stopping a new form of birth control, or a change in diet, exercise, weight gain/loss or stress, can cause abnormal bleeding.
Swelling of the Abdomen
Bloating or swelling, particularly in the abdominal region, is another primary symptom of ovarian cancer. A woman might notice that her clothes are fitting tighter with no explained weight gain, or that her abdominal region has become uncomfortable. Swelling and bloating can be caused by a number of things, including pregnancy, a change in salt or caloric intake, and changes in the menstrual cycle. A switch in altitudes or temperatures can sometimes cause swelling, as well. Therefore, swelling should be examined by a physician to rule out a serious cause.
Pain During Intercourse
Though more rare than the two above-mentioned symptoms, cervical and ovarian cancer sufferers might experience pain during intercourse. Douching and undergoing a Pap smear can also cause ovarian and cervical pain, and sometimes bleeding, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Because pain during intercourse can signal less serious conditions such as an ovarian cyst or urinary tract infection, don't panic, but do see your physician to rule out cancer. The ACS does advise any woman with lingering or abnormal pains, such as those that occur during intercourse, to see her physician right away.
Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Though many women experience abnormal discharge on occasion, some ovarian and cervical cancer sufferers will experience it more frequently. The discharge can range from thick to watery or clear to bloody. It might be accompanied by an abnormal smell. Vaginal discharge that is abnormal is most commonly seen after intercourse, and in pre-menopausal women. Anyone experiencing repeated or prolonged episodes should see a physician.
Loss of Appetite
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, cervical and ovarian cancer sufferers can also experience a lack of appetite. In ovarian cancer patients, this is usually preceded by a constant feeling of being full, even if the patient has only had a small meal. It should also be noted that many cancer sufferers, not just those with gynaecologic cancers, often lose their appetites. This, of course, can lead to weight loss and malnourishment--two conditions detrimental to cancer patients who require nutrients and strength to fight their cancers.