Cancer doesn't discriminate, it affects both men and women.  However, certain cancers are more prevalent in women, making awareness and early detection crucial. 

Here are some common cancers in women and the signs to watch for.

1. Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among women. Early signs include the discovery of a lump in the breast or armpit, changes in breast size or shape, skin dimpling, nipple discharge, or persistent breast pain. Regular breast self-exams and mammograms are essential for early detection.

2. Cervical cancer is often linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Regular smears can detect precancerous changes. Warning signs may include abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause, as well as pelvic pain or discomfort.

3. Ovarian cancer is challenging to detect early due to subtle symptoms, often called the "silent killer." Watch out for nonspecific symptoms such as persistent bloating, abdominal pain, changes in bowel or urinary habits, and feelings of fullness quickly while eating especially if you are aged over 50.

4. Lung cancer: Though often associated with smoking, lung cancer affects non-smoking women too. Symptoms to be aware of include a persistent cough, chest pain, coughing up blood, and unexplained weight loss.

5. Colorectal cancer can affect both the colon and rectum. Signs include changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhoea or constipation, blood in stool, abdominal pain or discomfort, and unexplained weight loss.

Regular health check-ups, awareness of family history, and lifestyle choices like maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise and avoiding tobacco can reduce the risk of these cancers. 

Additionally, HPV vaccination can prevent cervical cancer. Early detection is paramount. If you notice any unusual symptoms or have concerns about your risk factors, consult your surgery. 

They can recommend appropriate screenings and guide you on maintaining your overall health. Remember, knowledge and vigilance can make all the difference in the fight against cancer.

Dr Yasara Naheed is a GP partner at Thursby Surgery, Burnley, and Clinical Director for Burnley East Primary Care Network. She has practiced at Thursby Surgery since 2004 following her GP training.