Today I decided I needed a change… A change from my faceless Twitter pic (a pair of red barbells), to a new “better” version to show who I really am – a mommy, and a runner. The pic was taken by my husband this past September when I ran 10K in the Underwear Affair to raise money for cancers below the waist.
Cancers below the waist? What do you mean?
There’s a lot of awareness about breast cancer – we all know that we should check our breasts for lumps, discharge etc… But do you know what the signs and symptoms are for: Cervical, Ovarian, Uterine, or Colorectal Cancer? Did you know these cancers are far more common than Breast Cancer? Yeah, neither did I until my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cervical cancer. And that’s why I ran 10K in my underwear – to raise money and awareness for these cancers below the waist.
The Signs and Symptoms
Because even I didn’t know the signs and symptoms until I ran the race, I thought that I’d share them with you below. If you experience any of these, please go to your doctor and let him/her know. Cancer caught in it’s early stages can be treated.
Cervical cancer in its early or precancerous stages often does not cause any symptoms at all. That is why it is important for women who are sexually active to have a Pap test every 1 to 3 years. Cervical cancer can develop over a long time without causing any signs or symptoms. You may notice one or more of these symptoms:
- abnormal bleeding from the vagina
- bleeding or spotting between regular menstrual periods
- bleeding after sex
- menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than before
- bleeding after menopause
- more discharge from the vagina than normal
- pain in the pelvis or lower back
- pain during sexual intercourse
The most common signs and symptoms of uterine cancer may include:
- unusual vaginal bleeding
- bleeding that starts after menopause
- bleeding between periods in premenopausal women
- frequent heavy bleeding at any stage (before or after menopause)
- bleeding with sex
- unusual vaginal discharge (foul smelling or pus-like)
- pain during sex
- pain in the pelvic area
Ovarian cancer in its early stages often does not cause any symptoms at all. When symptoms do start, they are often vague and easily mistaken for more common illnesses.
Often these sysmptoms can be cause by other less serious health problems, not cancer. Testing is needed to make a diagnosis.
Ovarian cancer, in its early stages, may cause:
- abdominal discomfort, pressure or pain
- abdominal swelling
- change in bowel habits
- feeling full after a light meal
- upset stomach
- feeling that the bowel has not completely emptied
- pain in lower back or leg
- more frequent or urgent urination
- abnormal vaginal bleeding
- menstrual disorders
- pain during intercourse
If these symptoms increase in intensity or severity or last longer than 2 to 3 weeks, you should contact your doctor.
Colorectal cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages because the lower abdomen (stomach area) has lots of room for a tumour to grow and expand. Symptoms often appear once the tumour causes bleeding blocks the bowel.
Possible symptoms may include:
- a change in bowel habits
- blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool
- diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- stools that are narrower than usual
- general abdominal discomfort (frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness or cramps)
- unexplained weight loss
- feeling very tired
Other health problems can cause some of the same symptoms. Testing is needed to make a diagnosis
If you experience any of these, please go to your doctor and let him/her know. Cancer caught in it’s early stages can be treated.