According to the CDC, cancer is the second leading cause of death of women in the United States, right behind heart disease. There are many preventative measures against cancer, including blood tests for each type of cancer that women face.
In this guide, we'll go over the different types of women's cancers, the signs and symptoms, and the tests you can get to screen for and monitor cancer in women. Read on to learn more about how to protect yourself or a loved one from different types of cancer in women.
What Are the Different Types of Cancer in Women?
According to the American Cancer Society, the most common cancers women face are:
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Skin cancers
There are different recommendations about when and how often you should get tested based on age groups and other risk factors.
What are the Benefits of Getting Tested for Cancer in Women?
Women between 40 and 55 should get screened for breast cancer with a mammogram every year. You should also check yourself for any lumps, skin discoloration, or unusual pain in your breasts every month. Women over 21 should get a regular Pap smear test done by their gynecologist every three years to test for some kinds of cervical cancers and HPV.
These tests mentioned above, along with tumor marker blood tests for ovarian, endometrial, and other types of cervical cancers, can help you catch cancer in its early stages. Catching cancer early on can lead to a greater chance of survival. Talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms or risk factors for these kinds of cancer, and consider ordering a blood test to screen yourself if you think you may have cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors for Cancer in Women
While the causes for most types of cancer are unknown, there are a few risk factors that could increase your likelihood of getting cancer. Most types of women's cancers have a higher risk associated with age and genetic factors. Smoking and obesity are also risk factors for all kinds of cancer.
You are at an increased risk for cervical cancer if you have been exposed to or diagnosed with HPV. There is an HPV vaccine recommended for children and young adults to prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer.
Some types of ovarian and endometrial cancer have an increased risk if you have never had children or had your first child after 30. Hormone replacement therapy can affect the hormone levels in your body and may be another potential risk factor.
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer in Women
Some symptoms and warning signs of breast cancer include:
- nipple discharge or changes
- swollen breasts
- lumps in breast, armpits, or collarbone
- breast or nipple pain
- skin discoloration or dimpling
The following signs can apply to ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, or endometrial cancer:
- spotting between periods or smelly discharge
- bloating or swelling in the belly
- belly, back, or pelvic pain or discomfort
- bowel changes such as diarrhea or constipation
- frequent urge to pee, or unexplained weight loss without dieting
If you have any of these warning signs, you should consider getting yourself tested and talking to your doctor for more information.
One frequently asked question is, what are some signs and symptoms of cancer in women? Other kinds of cancers than those mentioned here often have similar symptoms for men and women. But women can often mistake serious abdominal pain for regular PMS symptoms or period cramps, so it's important to get that checked by a doctor if it persists beyond a few days.
How is Women's Cancer Diagnosed?
Along with regular mammograms, colonoscopies, and Pap smear tests during your regular check-ups, your doctor may order blood tests to determine if you have cancer. Different kinds of tests can screen and diagnose cancer and monitor the condition during cancer treatment.
What Does Each Blood Test For Cancer in Women Test For?
BRCA 1 and 2 tests are genetic tests using your DNA. This test looks for changes or mutations in the BRCA 1 and 2 genes that show an increased hereditary likelihood for breast and ovarian cancers. This is a screening test for patients who may have a higher risk of developing these kinds of cancer.
Cervical cancer tests use genetic markers to help determine your risk for developing cervical cancer. This test looks for extra copies of a certain gene associated with this type of cancer.
The CA 125 tumor marker test for ovarian cancer monitors patients who already have ovarian cancer. This test looks for the tumor marker CA 125 in the blood that is usually elevated in women with ovarian cancer. This marker can be high in women who are not sick or not present in women who have cancer, so it is best used as a monitoring test or in conjunction with other tests for a diagnosis.
The He4 ovarian cancer monitoring test is also used to monitor an existing diagnosis of ovarian cancer. This test looks for a different kind of tumor marker and tends to be a more accurate indicator than the CA 125 test for some kinds of ovarian cancer. Imaging tests like an ultrasound or CT scan might be necessary along with these tests for a doctor to confirm a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
Benefits of Ordering Your Cancer Lab Tests Online
You can order blood tests online to help screen for women’s cancers. When you order your tests online with Ulta Lab Tests, you get fast, secure, and confidential results within 24-48 hours for most tests.
You won't need health insurance or a referral from a doctor to order the tests, and you can get them at an affordable price. Choose the tests you want to order and go to a lab near you for a phlebotomist to collect the samples.
Take Charge of Your Health
Kick cancer to the curb with blood tests for cancer in women from Ulta Lab Tests. You can take charge of your health by ordering the tests you need directly without waiting for a doctor's approval. Check out our list of blood tests for cancer, or search for a specific test to get started on your path to wellness today.