I’m a nurse – here are the tiny symptoms I noticed right before I was diagnosed with cancer

A NURSE said it was a “shock” to be diagnosed with cancer after noticing only “tiny symptoms”.

Tracy Warrington from Swansea, Wales, only realized something was wrong thanks to her work as a school nurse.

Tracy Warrington said she did "tiny symptoms" before her cancer diagnosis


Tracy Warrington said she had “tiny symptoms” before her cancer diagnosisPhoto credit: MEDIA WALES
Tracy, a school nurse, underwent extensive surgery to eliminate her cervical cancer


Tracy, a school nurse, underwent extensive surgery to eliminate her cervical cancerPhoto credit: MEDIA WALES

She told Wales Online: “I knew the symptoms I was getting weren’t right.

“They were tiny symptoms, not very much at all.

“But I knew from my experience in various areas, such as family planning, that something was wrong.”

Tracy said she remembers a colleague she used to work with in family planning who warned of a significant symptom of cancer in older women.

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“I heard her voice in my head one day and remembered saying out loud, not just to me — if you ever get any postmenopausal bleeding, don’t ignore it,” Tracy said.

Tracey, whose age was not given, was postmenopausal, meaning she hadn’t had a period in at least a year.

The NHS says any bleeding from the vagina after the year is over should be checked out by a GP, even if it’s a small amount, there are no other symptoms and it’s only happened once.

Causes include inflammation in the vagina and polyps (growths in the uterus).

Less commonly, however, it may be ovarian or uterine cancer, which are diagnosed in the UK in 7,500 and 9,700 women, respectively, each year.

In Tracy’s case, tests in January revealed she had endometrial cancer — the most common type of endometrial cancer that starts in the lining of the womb.

A nurse referred her as soon as Tracy mentioned her symptoms.

The grandmother said, “I have a healthy lifestyle; I’m not overweight, I exercise, I eat healthily, I drink only small amounts, cancer doesn’t run in my family, so my age was my only real risk factor.

“I never really had any problems; I gave birth to my two sons without any problems and I’ve never had any real problems with menopause.

“So it was a real shock to be diagnosed.”

Endometrial cancer begins when cells in the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) grow out of control.

Tracey’s surgery involved removal of her uterus, ovaries and cervix, followed by localized radiation therapy.

The doctors found that the uterine lining was almost five times thicker than it should be.

“It’s said to be about 4mm thick and parts of it were up to 22mm thick,” Tracey said.

The dedicated NHS worker, who has worked for Swansea Bay University Health Services for more than 20 years, had to wait six weeks for her surgery, which she says was the hardest part.

She said: “I was scared before. I had never had an operation or been ill.

“For about two weeks [after] I felt a bit sore but no real pain. It didn’t really affect my daily life, I just couldn’t walk for a while and had to slow down a bit.

“The biggest thing is negotiating the emotional impact, and that’s ongoing. I’m so thankful for the way I’ve been taken care of.”

Tracey – who has raised £300 for Singleton Hospital’s gynecology department – said she wants others to be aware of the symptoms.

The most common sign is abnormal vaginal bleeding – for example heavy bleeding, bloody discharge, between periods or after menopause.

Around 90 percent of endometrial cancer diagnoses are reported because of postmenopausal or irregular vaginal bleeding, says the Eve Appeal.

The 5 Gynecology: The Facts

These are the statistics on the five gynecologic cancers, according to the Lady Garden Foundation:

Cervical cancer: Around 3,100 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year and it is the most common type of cancer in women under the age of 35.

Main symptoms: In most cases, unusual bleeding, which, however, can only be symptom-free in the advanced stage.

ovarian cancer: In the UK, over 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. This makes ovarian cancer the fifth most common type of cancer in women after breast, lung, colon and uterine cancer. More than eight out of ten ovarian cancers occur in women over the age of 50.

Main Symptoms: Difficulty eating and feeling full or sick quickly, enlarged abdomen and persistent gas, an unexplained change in bowel habits, and persistent pelvic and abdominal pain.

vaginal cancer: Vaginal cancer is rare with nearly 260 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year. That’s less than one in 600 cancers diagnosed in women.

Main Symptoms: Vaginal discharge that may smell or be bloody, vaginal pain during sex, unexpected bleeding. persistent vaginal or pelvic pain.

vulvar cancer: Vulvar cancer is a rare cancer. Around 1,200 cases are diagnosed in the UK each year. It is more common in older women and many cases are diagnosed in women aged 65 and older.

Main Symptoms: a lump or swelling on the vulva, persistent itching, pain, or soreness, a mole on the vulva that is changing shape or color, an open sore, or thickened raised or red patches on the vulva.

womb: Cancer of the womb is the fourth most common cancer in women in the UK. In the UK around 8,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, with around 5 in 100 cancers diagnosed in women being cervical cancer. The most common type is the endometrium.

Main Symptoms: Vaginal bleeding, bleeding between periods, vaginal discharge and unusual heavy bleeding.

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5860307/nurse-tiny-symptoms-before-diagnosed-cancer/ I’m a nurse – here are the tiny symptoms I noticed right before I was diagnosed with cancer

Sarah Y. Kim

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