Understanding Cancer

Cancer Signs and Symptoms

With so many different types of cancers, the symptoms are varied and depend on where the disease is located. However, there are some key signs and symptoms to look out for, including:

Coughing, breathlessness or difficulty swallowing

be aware of persistent coughing episodes, breathlessness or difficulty swallowing

Unusual lumps or swelling

cancerous lumps are often painless and may increase in size as the cancer progresses

Changes in bowel habit

such as constipation and diarrhoea and/or blood found in the stools

Unexpected bleeding

includes bleeding from the vagina, anal passage, or blood found in stools, in urine or when coughing

Unexplained weight loss

a large amount of unexplained and unintentional weight loss over a short period of time (a couple of months)


which shows itself as extreme tiredness and a severe lack of energy. If fatigue is due to cancer, individuals normally also have other symptoms

Pain or ache

includes unexplained or ongoing pain, or pain that comes and goes

New mole or changes to a mole

look for changes in size, shape, or colour and if it becomes crusty or bleeds or oozes

Complications with urinating

includes needing to urinate urgently, more frequently, or being unable to go when you need to or experiencing pain while urinating

Unusual breast changes

look for changes in size, shape or feel, skin changes and pain

Appetite loss

feeling less hungry than usual for a prolonged period of time

A sore or ulcer that won’t heal

including a spot, sore wound or mouth ulcer

Heartburn or indigestion

persistent or painful heartburn or indigestion

Heavy night sweats

be aware of very heavy, drenching night sweats