Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Signs and symptoms are how the body lets you know you are hurt or sick. Signs can be seen and measured, such as a fever or bleeding. Symptoms are what you feel or notice. Most signs and symptoms of illness do not mean you have cancer.

If you have any signs and symptoms that do not go away or get worse, you should see a doctor to find out what may be causing them. Do not wait to feel pain before seeing your doctor. If cancer is not the cause, your doctor can help figure out what the cause is and treat it, if needed.

Common Cancer Symptoms

There are many kinds of cancers and some share symptoms. Learn more about signs and symptoms for a specific cancer. Here are some of the symptoms that cancer may cause.

General Changes

  • Bleeding or bruising, for no known reason
  • Cough or hoarseness that does not go away
  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness that doesn’t get better with rest
  • Fever or night sweats for no known reason
  • Swelling or lumps anywhere such as in the neck, underarm, stomach, and groin

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

Bowel Changes

  • Blood in the stools
  • Changes in bowel habits

Eating Problems

  • Pain after eating (heartburn or indigestion that doesn’t go away)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Belly pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss or gain of 10 pounds or more 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
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)

Cancer Screening

Some types of cancer can be found before they cause symptoms. Checking for cancer or for conditions that may lead to cancer is called screening. Screening is usually done when you are healthy and helps find cancer early, when it is easier to treat.

Learn more about screening guidelines.

See Changes? Visit your doctor.