Caused by HPV, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, yet it goes undetected for a lot of women until it’s too late. It is usually seen in sexually active women, though it is also common in smokers, women who have poor diets, HIV and HPV sufferers and those who do not go for regular Pap smears (please don’t skip these – they help detect the cancer!).
Symptoms: Abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during sex, excess vaginal discharge
What can you do?: First of all, schedule a Pap smear if you’re above 21 and sexually active. Enquire about HPV vaccination in your local clinic. Also, always use protection!
Pinktober started for a reason. Though not exclusively seen in women, 1 in 8 women get it during their lifetime. Oftentimes hereditary, breast cancer is highly preventable if detected early before metastasis. Early detection is key!
Symptoms: Inverted nipple, lump or sore in breast/nipple, nipple discharge
What can you do?: Perform self-examinations regularly. If you are above 40, speak to your doctor about a mammogram. If you have a family history of breast cancer, be extra vigilant!
Unlike cervical cancer, ovarian cancer cannot be detected by Pap smears or simple gynecologist tests. However, statistics show that ovarian cancer is more common in women who have not had children, have children after 30, or with family history of colon cancer, breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
Symptoms: Abdominal swelling, pelvic pain, constant feeling of wanting to pee
What can you do?: Talk to your healthcare provider about pelvic exams, and enquire if you’re at risk of contracting this cancer. Staying healthy and keeping fit is vital!
Also called uterine cancer, this is the cancer of the lining of the uterus (yes, all our organs are susceptible to cancer!). It is usually seen in postmenopausal women or women above the age of 60. Like ovarian cancer, uterine cancer doesn’t have specific tests to detect it early.
Symptoms: Painful urination, vaginal bleeding/spotting that is not related to menstruation, pain during intercourse
What can you do?: Lifestyle plays a big part. Get rid of obesity, exercise, eat healthy and quit smoking. Don’t forget to speak to your doctor about this, especially if you’re postmenopausal!
Colorectal cancer affects the bowel system, so it mostly is seen in people who have previously suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrom, have had polyps in their colon or rectum (piles, for those of us who know the laymen term), or have a family history of colorectal cancer.
Symptoms: Blood in stools, persistent diarrhea or constipation, abdominal discomfort
What can you do?: If you are at risk, do get yourself regular check-ups age 45 onwards. Opt for a colonoscopy (which is a visual test) or a stool-based test.
As always, with any of the symptoms, they may not be signs of cancer. Just to be sure, always consult your doctor! It's always good to have a medical card that covers for hospitalisation in the event of any untoward diagnosis. Get eMedic Plus here.