Symptoms 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 adult and 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

    • Updated: May 16, 2019

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