Symptoms and signs of cancer(all types of cancer)

Young woman receiving thyroid exam from her doctor
If you have symptoms that last for a couple of weeks, it is important to see a doctor.
Credit: iStock
Cancer can cause many symptoms, but these symptoms are most often caused by illness, injury, benign tumors, or other problems. If you have symptoms that do not get better after a few weeks, see your doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Often, cancer does not cause pain, so do not wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor. 

To learn more about symptoms for a specific cancer, see the list of PDQ® cancer treatment summaries for adultand childhood cancers. Each summary includes detailed information about symptoms caused by a specific cancer.

Some of the symptoms that cancer may cause include:

Breast changes
  • Lump or firm feeling in your breast or under your arm
  • Nipple changes or discharge
  • Skin that is itchy, red, scaly, dimpled, or puckered
Bladder changes
  • Trouble urinating
  • Pain when urinating
  • Blood in the urine
Bleeding or bruising, for no known reason
Bowel changes 
  • Blood in the stools
  • Changes in bowel habits
Cough or hoarseness that does not go away
Eating problems
  • Pain after eating (heartburn or indigestion that doesn’t go away)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Belly pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite changes
Fatigue that is severe and lasts
Fever or night sweats for no known reason
Mouth changes
  • A white or red patch on the tongue or in your mouth
  • Bleeding, pain, or numbness in the lip or mouth
Neurological problems
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Vision changes
  • Hearing changes
  • Drooping of the face
Skin changes
  • A flesh-colored lump that bleeds or turns scaly
  • A new mole or a change in an existing mole
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
    Swelling or lumps anywhere such as in the neck, underarm, stomach, and groin
    Weight gain or weight loss for no known reason

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