Cancer symptoms

Knowing how your body normally looks and feels can help you be aware of any changes that could be caused by cancer. If you have any symptoms that are ongoing, unexplained or unusual for you it’s important to see your doctor.

There are certain symptoms you should always have checked. Don’t be scared about getting symptoms checked by your doctor. The earlier cancer is found, the more likely it is to be cured. You won’t be wasting their time.

Common symptoms of cancer include:

  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A lump or swelling
  • Unexplained pain

These symptoms can be caused by something other than cancer. However, it’s always best to have them checked by your GP, as soon as possible. You are not wasting your doctor’s time by getting your symptoms checked.

If you’ve already been to your doctor with symptoms but they haven’t gone away, it is important to see your doctor again.

Symptoms to look out for

Knowing how your body normally looks and feels can help you notice any early changes that could be caused by cancer.

Always see your doctor if you have symptoms that are ongoing, unexplained or unusual for you.

Ongoing symptoms

If you have a symptom that lasts for more than three weeks, see your doctor. This might be a cough that doesn’t go away, a change in bowel habits, a mouth ulcer that doesn’t heal, or feeling bloated most days.

Unexplained symptoms

This means a symptom that doesn’t have an obvious cause, for example having a lump or bleeding without any injury.

Symptoms that are unusual for you

This means a change in your body that is not normal for you. It could be a change in a cough you’ve had for a long time, a change to a mole, or a change in the skin on your breast.


Recognise the symptoms of cancer

If you have any of the symptoms listed below, see your doctor.

Unexplained bleeding

Any unexplained bleeding is a sign that something might be wrong. You should always get this checked by your doctor.

This may be blood in your urine, bowel motions, spit or vomit. For women it also includes vaginal bleeding in between periods, after sex or after the menopause.

Weight loss

If you have lost weight without trying to and it can’t be explained by changes in your diet or exercise, tell your doctor.

Lumps

If you notice an unexplained lump or swelling anywhere on your body, see your doctor. It can be useful to tell them how long it has been there and if it is getting bigger or causes discomfort.

Pain

If you have a new, unexplained pain anywhere that lasts for three weeks or more, see your doctor to get it checked. Having any of these symptoms does not usually mean you have cancer, but it is sensible to get them checked. The cause of the symptoms is probably nothing to worry about. But they could be a sign of something that needs treatment.

If it is cancer, the sooner it is found, the more likely it is to be cured. And if it’s nothing serious, your doctor can put your mind at rest.

If you’ve already been to your doctor with symptoms but they haven’t gone away, it is important to see your doctor again.

You are not wasting your doctor’s time by getting your symptoms checked.


Back to Signs and symptoms

Getting diagnosed

If you have any unusual symptoms or changes to your body that are worrying you, go and see your GP.

Symptoms and common cancers

The most common cancers among men and women in the UK are lung, large bowel, prostate, bladder, breast and ovarian.