Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Cancer can take years to grow, even decades, before it manifests in symptoms. You can bring in risk reducers early if you know the early warning signs.  If you experience any of the following signs and symptoms of cancer, don’t panic.  These signs and symptoms are also common to many other diseases, ones that are much less frightening.  Nevertheless, you should see your health care practitioner right away for an accurate diagnosis. We have listed the most common signs and symptoms of cancer below.

For signs and symptoms of a specific type of cancer that you're interested, please click here to see our links below for each.


The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Cancer include:
  • Change in bowel or bladder habits, especially blood in the urine or stool
  • Chronic indigestion, bloating and heartburn, especially difficulty swallowing
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge from the vagina
  • A lump or thickening in the breasts or testicles
  • Chronic cough or a cough that brings up blood
  • Hoarseness that lasts for more than a week
  • Growth or changes in warts or moles
  • A sore that doesn’t heal within 3 weeks
  • Thickening of the skin on any parts of the body
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Recurrent infections
  • A persistent low-grade fever
  • Unexplained pain, especially in the bones
  • Recurring headaches
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained anemia

Diagnosis of Cancer

Cancer is not one disease, but many.  The word cancer is an umbrella term for more than one hundred different types of diseases that are generally named according to the area where the tumor first appears.  To obtain an accurate diagnosis of cancer, please see your doctor.  You can also refer to the specific cancers listed on this web site for information on the diagnosis of a particular cancer.

There are four types of cancerous growths:
  • Carcinomas – affect the skin, glands, mucous membranes and organs, such as the skin, breasts, liver and lungs
  • Leukemias – affect the blood
  • Sarcomas – affect connective tissue, bones and muscle
  • Lymphomas – affect the lymph system

Specific Cancer Types
There are many specific types of cancer. The following is a list of about 80 of the more common cancers. For information on signs and symptoms of each, and for helpful books and resources, click on the link of the disease you're wanting to know about.

Books for People With Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

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