chris geiger

The Cancer Survivors Club

Symptoms of cancer

Some of the signs and symptoms of cancer

They are most likely to be caused by something much less serious than cancer, but they could be a sign of cancer.

Spotting cancer early is important as it means treatment is more likely to be successful. So it’s important you tell your doctor if you notice anything on this list, or any other unusual or persistent change to your body. Although anyone can develop cancer, it’s more common as we get older – around 9 out of 10 cases are in people aged 50 or over.

There are more than 200 different types of cancer, with many different symptoms. This list, in no special order, highlights the key ones to be aware of. But there’s no need to learn symptoms – if you spot something that isn’t normal for you, get it checked out.

Frequently seen symptoms



It’s not unusual to feel out of breath every now and then. But if you notice that you’re feeling breathless more than usual or for a lot of the time, tell your doctor.

Unexplained vaginal bleeding

Bleeding or ‘spotting’ between periods is a fairly common side effect of the contraceptive pill. But bleeding from the vagina between periods, after sex or post-menopause should be checked out by your doctor.


Persistent heartburn or indigestion

It is normal to feel slight discomfort or pain sometimes after eating a large, fatty or spicy meal. But if you are experiencing heartburn or indigestion a lot, or if it is particularly painful, then you should see your doctor.

Croaky voice or hoarseness

Having a croaky voice or feeling hoarse can be common with colds. But a croaky voice that hasn’t gone away on its own after a few weeks should be checked out by your doctor.


Looser poo or pooing more often

Loose, frequent bowel motions are usually caused by stomach bugs or food poisoning, but if you have noticed a change to looser poo or pooing more often that has lasted 4-6 weeks or more, then it’s important to tell your doctor.

Persistent bloating

It’s quite common for women to experience bloating of the abdomen that comes and goes. But if you feel bloated, most days, for 3 weeks or more, make an appointment to see your doctor.


Difficulty swallowing

A number of medical conditions can make it difficult to swallow. But if you are having difficulty swallowing and the problem doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks, it should be checked out.

Sore that won’t heal

The skin repairs itself very quickly and any damage usually heals within a week or so. When a spot, wart or sore doesn’t heal after several weeks, even if it’s painless, a doctor needs to check it.


Mouth or tongue ulcer that won’t heal

It’s common to get ulcers in the mouth when you’re a bit run down. The lining of the mouth renews itself every 2 weeks or so, which is why ulcers usually heal within this time. But an ulcer that doesn’t heal after 3 weeks should be reported to your doctor or dentist.

Heavy night sweats

Sweating at night can be caused by infections or it can be a side effect of certain medications. It’s also often experienced by women around the time of the menopause. But very heavy, drenching night sweats can also be a sign of cancer and should be checked out by your doctor.


Unusual breast changes

Lumps are not the only breast changes that should be reported to a doctor. Also look out for any change in the size, shape or feel of a breast, a change to the skin texture, redness, pain in the breast, a nipple change or fluid leaking from the nipple in a woman who is not pregnant or breastfeeding. Make sure your doctor knows about any changes.

Blood in your poo

The most common cause of blood in your poo (stools) is piles (haemorrhoids). But blood in your poo can sometimes be a sign of cancer. Your doctor wants to know if you spot blood when you go to the toilet.


Blood in your pee

Blood in your pee (urine) should always be reported to a doctor. Usually this is not caused by cancer and can be treated quickly and easily, but it could be a sign of cancer. Your doctor will be able to tell you what the cause is.

Unexplained weight loss

Small weight changes over time are quite normal, but if you lose a noticeable amount of weight without trying to, tell your doctor.


New mole or changes to a mole

Most moles remain harmless throughout our lives. But be aware of any new moles or existing moles that change in size, shape or colour, become crusty or bleed or ooze, and tell your doctor.

Coughing up blood

If you’ve coughed up blood, no matter how much or what colour, it’s important to tell your doctor. It may be nothing to worry about, but it’s important to get it checked out.


Persistent cough

Coughs are common with colds. But if a cough continues for more than 3 weeks or gets worse, make sure you tell your doctor.

Problems peeing

Problems peeing (urinating) can include needing to pee urgently, more frequently, being unable to go when you need to, or experiencing pain. These symptoms can all be caused by conditions other than cancer, but it’s important to tell your doctor if you experience any of them.


Unexplained pain or ache

Pain is one way our bodies tell us that something is wrong. As we get older, it‘s more common to experience aches and pains. But if you have unexplained, ongoing pain, or pain that comes and goes for more than 4 weeks, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Unusual lump or swelling anywhere

Persistent lumps or swelling in any part of your body should be taken seriously, including in the neck, armpit, stomach, groin, chest, breast or testicle. See your doctor to have it checked out.





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Useful Links


How to check for cancer

Knowing what’s normal for your body means you’re more likely to recognise something different. Spotting cancer at an early stage can save lives.  Read more --->>>

Early diagnosis

Cancer diagnosed early, before it’s had chance to get too big or spread is more likely to be treated successfully.  Read more --->>>

Seeing the doctor

If you've notice something unusual about your body, or any of the possible signs and symptoms of cancer, it’s important that you see your doctor and tell your concerns.  Read more --->>>

Support Forums

Online Forums are a great way to connect with others touched by cancer. They enable users to search then communicate privately with other members, based on their type of cancer, age and location.


Smoking causes cancer

The links between smoking and cancer are now very clear. Smoking accounts for more than 1 in 4 cancer deaths, and nearly a fifth of all cancer cases.  Read more --->>>

Being overweight causes cancer

Extra fat in the body can have harmful effects. More than 1 in 20 cancers are linked to being overweight or obese. Read more --->>>

Alcohol causes cancer

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer whether you drink it all in one go or a bit at a time. Read more --->>>


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Any story relating to cancer from anyone’s perspective can be submitted. However all stories must be true and make a positive impact.

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