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Some changes to your body can be a sign of cancer. It’s important to know what’s usual for your body, so you notice any changes quickly.

If you notice a sign or symptom mentioned below, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but it’s important to get it checked out by a doctor, as soon as possible. These symptoms can often be caused by other illnesses, but it's important to speak to your GP so they can investigate. Finding cancer early means it's easier to treat.

Signs and symptoms of cancer

The below are some of the most common signs or symptoms of cancer. This isn’t an exhaustive list, and is not intended as a diagnosis tool, so if you are concerned about something, please visit your doctor.

Lumps

If you notice a lump anywhere in your body, see your GP. Dependent on the GP's diagnosis, you may be referred to a specialist for further tests.

Changes to your breasts

As well as lumps, there are a number of other things to watch out for, that both men and women should be aware of.

  • Changes to the size, outline or shape
  • Changes to the look or feel of your skin such as bumps, dimples, orange peel, skin sores or growing veins
  • A new lump, thickening or bumpy area in the breast or armpit
  • Unexpected fluid or bleeding
  • Crusty or sunken nipples or a change in nipple position
  • Discomfort or pain in one breast
  • An unexplained rash or feelings of heat

Pain

If you have an unexplained pain anywhere in your body, which lasts over three weeks, you should go and see your doctor.

Coughing, breathlessness and hoarseness

If you have had a cough for more than three weeks, or if you have blood in your phlegm when you cough, please contact your GP. Symptoms such shortness of breath or chest pain may also be a sign of a severe (acute) condition, such as pneumonia. Please contact your GP straight away if as you have these types of symptoms.

Changes in your toilet habits

See your GP if you have experienced one of the changes listed below and this has lasted for more than a few weeks:

  • blood in your poo
  • diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
  • a feeling of not having emptied your bowel properly after going to the toilet
  • pain in your abdomen (tummy) or back passage
  • Problems weeing like needing to wee suddenly or having pain when you go

Bleeding

Contact your GP if you have any unexplained bleeding, for example:

  • blood in your wee
  • bleeding between periods
  • blood when you poo
  • blood when you cough
  • blood in your vomit

Bloating

If you've had bloating for three weeks or more, please contact your GP for advice.

Moles and skin

See your GP if you have a mole that:

  • has an irregular or asymmetrical shape
  • has an irregular border with jagged edges
  • has more than one colour (it may be flecked with brown, black, red, pink or white)
  • is larger than 7mm in diameter
  • is itchy, crusting or bleeding

See your GP if you notice other changes to your skin including:

  • A new, unexplained skin change which appears suddenly
  • A spot or sore which continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed for more than four weeks or does not heal within four weeks
  • Ulcerated areas or patches where the skin has broken down and does not heal within four weeks

You can find more information on moles and changes to the skin here.

Unexplained weight loss

Contact your GP if you have lost a lot of weight over the last couple of months that can’t be explained by changes in your diet, exercise or stress.

Extreme tiredness or fatigue

If you’re struggling with tiredness or fatigue for no obvious reason, for some time, then it’s worth going to see your GP.

Any other concerns

We would always advise that if you have any concerns or worries to contact your GP or seek professional medical advice. 

More information

You can find out more about the signs and symptoms of cancer:

You can also call our free Support Line and speak to one of our experienced nurses.

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, our free cancer Support Line is there for you. Just call 0808 808 1010