15 Cancer Symptoms Not To Miss

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 18 May 2022

Changes in Your Skin

A new spot on your skin, as well as one that changes size, shape, or colour, could indicate skin cancer. Another example is a spot on the body that differs from the others. Consult your doctor if you notice any new rashes or moles. They will perform an examination and can remove a small piece of tissue (called a biopsy) to look for cancer cells more closely.

Persistent Cough

If you don't smoke, a persistent cough is unlikely to be a symptom of cancer. Postnasal drip, asthma, acid reflux, or infection are the most common causes. However, if yours doesn't go away or you cough up blood, see your doctor, especially if you smoke. They can examine your lungs for mucus or perform a chest X-ray to look for lung cancer.

Breast Changes

The majority of breast modifications are not cancerous. However, you can always alert your doctor about them and get them checked out. Any lumps, nipple changes or discharge, redness or thickening, or discomfort in your breasts should be reported to them. They'll do an examination and can recommend a mammogram, MRI, or biopsy.


Your diet or even stress may be causing you to feel complete and bloated. Get it checked out if it doesn't get better and you're still experiencing exhaustion, weight loss, or back pain. Bloating that persists in women may be a symptom of ovarian cancer. A pelvic exam may be performed by your doctor to determine the cause.

Problems When You Pee

Many men experience urinary problems as they age, such as the need to go more often, leaks, or a poor stream. These are usually symptoms of an enlarged prostate, but they may also indicate prostate cancer. See your doctor for a physical examination and possibly a PSA test.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Small bean-shaped glands can be found in your stomach, armpits, and other parts of your body. When they swell, you're usually battling an infection like a cough or strep throat. Swelling can also be caused by cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia. Consult your doctor to determine the cause.

Blood When You Use the Bathroom

It's a good idea to see your doctor if you see blood in the toilet after you've gone. Bloody stools are most likely caused by swollen, inflamed veins known as haemorrhoids, but colon cancer is also a possibility. Blood in your urine could indicate a urinary tract infection, but it could also indicate kidney or bladder cancer.

Testicle Changes

You should see your doctor right away if you find a lump or swelling in your testicles. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump. Men can experience a heavy feeling in their lower belly or scrotum, or believe their testicles are larger. Your doctor will examine the area physically and can use an ultrasound scan to determine whether there is a tumour or other issue.

Difficulty Swallowing

A common cold, acid reflux, or even certain medications may make swallowing difficult at times. Consult the doctor if it does not improve with time or antacids. Trouble swallowing could be a symptom of cancer in your throat or the oesophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach. Your doctor will perform an examination and other tests, such as a barium X-ray, in which you will drink a chalky fluid to help the picture display your throat more clearly.

Unusual Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding that isn't part of the regular cycle can be caused by a variety of factors, including fibroids or some forms of birth control. However, if you're bleeding between hours, after sex, or have a bloody discharge, see the doctor. They'll want to rule out uterine, cervix, or vaginal cancer. If you're bleeding after menopause, make sure to tell them. That is not normal and must be examined immediately.

Mouth Issues

Most changes in your mouth aren't dangerous, from bad breath to canker sores. However, if you have white or red patches or sores in your mouth that don't heal after a few weeks, see your doctor, particularly if you smoke. It may be an indication of oral cancer. A lump in your lip, difficulty moving your jaw, or mouth discomfort are other symptoms to watch for.

Weight Loss

Of course, if you change your eating habits or workout routine, you will lose weight. It may also occur if you are dealing with other problems such as depression or a thyroid disorder. However, losing 10 pounds or more without trying is unusual. It may be the first symptom of pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, or any form of cancer.


Having a fever isn't really a bad thing. It's sometimes just a symptom of the body battling an infection. Some medicines can cause it as a side effect. However, one that persists and has no apparent cause may be a symptom of blood cancer such as leukaemia or lymphoma.

Heartburn or Indigestion

Almost everyone experiences a burning sensation from time to time, which is often caused by their diet or stress. If lifestyle changes fail to relieve your indigestion, your doctor can order tests to determine the source. It's possible that it's a symptom of stomach cancer.


Many things will make you tired, and the majority of them aren't serious. However, exhaustion is a symptom of certain cancers, such as leukaemia. Some colon and stomach cancers cause undetectable blood loss, which may make you feel exhausted. If you're always exhausted and resting doesn't help, see your doctor.


Referenced on  27/4/2021

  1. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery: “Swallowing Trouble."
  2. American Cancer Society: “Breast Cancer Symptoms: What You Need to Know," “Exams and tests that look for lung cancer," “How is cancer of the esophagus diagnosed?" “How is melanoma skin cancer diagnosed?" “Lymph Nodes and Cancer," “Possible symptoms of testicular cancer," “Signs and Symptoms of Cancer," “Signs and symptoms of esophagus cancer," “Signs and symptoms of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers," “Signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer," “Signs and symptoms of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer," “Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer," “Signs and symptoms of stomach cancer," “Testicular self-exam,"
  3. American Gastroenterological Association: “Living with Gas in the Digestive Tract."
  4. American Kidney Fund: “Blood in Urine."
  5. Cleveland Clinic: “Rectal Bleeding," “Swollen lymph nodes."
  6. EmergencyCareforYou: “Fever."
  7. FamilyDoctor.org: “Heartburn."
  8. HealthinAging.org: “Urinary Incontinence."
  9. National Cancer Institute: “Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women," “Understanding Prostate Changes: A Health Guide for Men."
  10. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: “Detecting Oral Cancer: A Guide for Health Care Professionals."
  11. Rush University Medical Center: “Unexplained Weight Loss or Gain."
  12. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Abnormal Uterine Bleeding."
  13. UptoDate: “Patient information: Chronic cough in adults (Beyond the Basics)."
  14. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/ss/slideshow-cancer-symptoms-signs 

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