18 March 2021


Cancer cases in Singapore have been increasing over the years. The National Cancer Centre Singapore reported that from 2013 to 2017 alone, the total cancer cases recorded in the country is over seventy-one thousand, with more than fifty per cent of those cases involving females. 

Fortunately, the advancement of cancer treatments in recent years has significantly improved cancer patients’ survival rate. Improvement in cancer screening for certain common cancers also makes early detection and timely treatment possible.

The most common types of cancer affecting Singaporean women include cancer of the breast, colorectal, lung, corpus uteri, ovary and fallopian tube. There are many potential cancer symptoms; some may also be due to other health issues. Here are the ten most common cancer symptoms which women often overlook.

Abnormal Menstruation

Abnormal menstruation is not rare since several factors can affect the period. These factors include pregnancy, obesity, menopause, thyroid problems, benign ovarian cysts, endometriosis and stress.

Nevertheless, when women start to have sudden, considerable changes in their cycle, they should speak to their doctors. These changes include irregular bleeding like spotting between period, heavier periods month after month, smelly, and bloody discharge. While these changes are typically due to infection, they could be signs of ovarian cancer, cervical, endometrial or other gynaecological cancers.

Women who have gone through menopause should visit their doctor promptly if they are bleeding as this change is never normal.


Bloating after eating a big meal or before menstruation is considered normal. However, being bloated each day for a few weeks without a known cause is not normal. Constantly feeling bloated or constipated can be a sign of uterine or ovarian cancer. Women with these symptoms should consult with their doctor for ovarian cancer screening as soon as possible.

Bowel Changes

Changes in the bowel may be a symptom of colorectal cancer, which affects the colon and rectum. It can appear like irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids or inflammatory bowel disease. Women may confuse some symptoms of colorectal cancers with premenstrual syndrome or their menstruations. 

Women should speak with their doctor or seek medical attention from women’s health clinic in Singapore if they notice a change in their poop habits for more than several days or experience symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, stomach pain or cramps and fatigue.

Moreover, women should pay attention to the colour or state of their poop. Bloody stools may signal serious conditions, including colon cancer, which becomes more common in people below fifty years old.

Breast Discolouration, Dimpling, or Other Changes

Breast lumps or bumps are a well-known sign of breast cancer. Nonetheless, breast cancer has other lesser-known symptoms which many women do not know about. These symptoms include breast dimpling, swelling, skin discolouration, tenderness, nipple inversion and nipple discharge.

Still, having any of these symptoms do not mean that a woman has cancer. Some medical experts believe it is a good idea to check on the underarms and breasts once every month. The doctor would tell how often a woman needs to undergo a mammogram or breast cancer screening Singapore.

Severe Coughing

Coughs that persist for two weeks or more can sometimes be a sign of lung cancer. Women who feel hoarse all the time may have cancer in their or thyroid gland or larynx. Coughing up blood with chest pain is a warning signal that needs immediate medical attention.

Severe Headaches

Women who have never had migraines and usually do not have headaches but experience a sudden onset of chronic or severe headaches may signal that something is wrong. They should speak to their doctor and get themselves checked.

Difficulty to Swallow

Having trouble swallowing could be caused by a simple sore throat. However, if it lasts more than two weeks, it may be a sign of mouth, lungs, stomach, oesophagus or throat cancer. Patients may also get indigestion or heartburn or feel like something is stuck in their throat. Be sure to talk to the doctor if these symptoms persist.

Excessive Bruising

Random bruises here and there may not signal a serious health condition, especially if the woman is clumsy. However, women who experience bruises that keep popping up all the time, particularly in peculiar places like fingers or hands, should speak to their doctor as this may be a sign of anaemia or leukaemia.

Regular Fevers or Infections 

Frequent infections and fevers may be an early symptom of leukaemia or lymphoma, which weaken the body’s immune function and make it more susceptible to diseases. Women who have seemingly random diseases now and then should see their doctor promptly.

Persistent Fatigue

Feeling extremely exhausted every day, even after a good night’s sleep, could be a sign of cancer. Although depression and anaemia are some of the typical causes of tiredness, cancers like lymphoma or leukaemia usually present as a change in energy level.


Cancer could cause various types of signs and symptoms, some of which seem normal or quite similar to other medical conditions. Hence, establishing a normal baseline is essential for recognising any health changes and possible cancer symptoms. Women should not overlook these symptoms and speak to their doctor promptly when experiencing them.