Most people would recognise one or two cancer symptoms, but as there are so many forms of the disease, this means there are many different symptoms, some of which may easily go unrecognised. Many cancer symptoms are similar to the symptoms of less serious health issues, which may discourage people from seeking medical advice. But the NHS advises on the importance of being aware of any unexplained changes to your body, as while they may be harmless, they could also pose a serious health risk. There is a vast array of symptoms for the 200 different types of cancer, here are six of the most common signs:


Always see a GP if you notice a lump in your breast, or elsewhere on your body, that is rapidly increasing in size.

Lumps can be caused by non-cancerous things like cysts or abscesses, but it’s always best to get them checked out as they may still need treating regardless.


Coughs are usually harmless, but a persistent cough lasting more than three weeks could be a sign of lung cancer or throat cancers.

A long-lasting cough could also be a sign of pneumonia, which would also need medical attention.

Bowel habit changes

See a GP if you have experienced bowel changes which have lasted for more than a few weeks.

These can include blood in the stools, diarrhoea, constipation, pain when going to the toilet and persistent bloating.

Changes in bowel habits could be a sign of something less serious like IBS, but could also signify bowel cancer.

Unexplained bleeding

Blood in the urine, bleeding between periods, bleeding from the bottom, blood when coughing and blood in vomit should always be checked out by a doctor.

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Unexplained bleeding, depending on where it is coming from, can be a sign of cancers including prostate cancer, cervical cancer, bowel cancer and lung cancer.


If you notice a mole that has an irregular or asymmetrical shape, is more than one colour, is bigger than 7mm in diameter, and is itchy, crusty or bleeding, see your GP.

The development of new moles fitting that description, or changes to the appearance of existing moles could be a sign of skin cancer.

Unexplained weight loss

Unexplained weight loss refers to dramatic loss of weight in the space of a couple of months, that can’t be explained by diet changes, exercise or stress.

Unexplained weight loss is a symptom of many different types of cancer.

“It’s important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine, or a change to your usual bowel habits,” said the NHS.

“These symptoms are often caused by other, non-cancerous illnesses, but it’s important to see your GP so they can investigate.”



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