1. Sores that don’t heal
Skin cancers may bleed and resemble sores that don’t heal. A persistent sore in the mouth could be oral cancer and should be dealt with promptly, especially in patients who smoke or drink alcohol.
2. A lump in breast or other parts of the body
Many cancers can be felt through the skin, particularly in the breast, testicle, lymph nodes and the soft tissues of the body. A lump or thickening may be a sign of cancer, and should be reported to a doctor, especially if you’ve just discovered it or noticed it has grown in size.
3. Unusual bleeding
This can occur in early or advanced cancer. Blood in the phlegm may be a sign of lung cancer. Blood in the stool could be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. Cancer of the cervix or the endometrium (lining of the uterus) can cause vaginal bleeding. Blood in the urine is a sign of possible bladder or kidney cancer. A discharge from the nipple may be a sign of breast cancer.
4. Change in bowel habits or bladder function
Chronic constipation, diarrhoea or a change in the size of the stool may indicate colon cancer. Pain with urination, blood in the urine or a change in bladder function (such as more frequent or less frequent urination) can be related to bladder or prostate cancer.
5. Recent change in a wart or mole
Any change in colour or shape, loss of definite borders or an increase in size should be reported to your doctor without delay. The skin lesion may be melanoma.
6. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
While they commonly have other causes, these symptoms may indicate cancer of the oesophagus, stomach or pharynx (throat).
7. Nagging cough or hoarseness
A persistent cough may be a sign of lung cancer. Hoarseness can be a sign of cancer of larynx (voice box) or thyroid.
8. Unexplained weight loss or fever
Most people with cancer will lose weight during some period of their illness. An unexplained weight loss of about 5 kg may be the first sign of cancer, particularly cancers of the pancreas, stomach, oesophagus or lung.
Fever is common with cancer, but is more often seen in advanced stages of the disease. Almost all patients with cancer will have fever at some time, particularly if the cancer or its treatment affects the immune system and reduces resistance to infection.