20 Signs of Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore

Cancer, a complex and diverse group of diseases, is characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells within the body. It can affect virtually any tissue or organ and poses a significant health challenge globally. Understanding its various forms, causes, and treatment options is crucial for both prevention and effective management in the pursuit of better outcomes for individuals affected by this formidable ailment. Here are 20 signs of cancer you should not ignore:


Cancer can develop almost anywhere in the body and the signs and symptoms will depend on the type of cancer and location. Some common signs of cancer include lumps, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained pain or discomfort, changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss, and more. While these symptoms may be caused by less serious conditions, it’s important to have them evaluated by a doctor so the cause can be determined. Some cancers are curable if caught early, so being aware of potential cancer signs is vital.

1. Unexplained Weight Loss

Losing weight without trying could be a sign of cancer. This may be due to the cancer consuming calories, suppressing appetite, or other factors. Sudden weight loss of 10 pounds or more without known cause may signify colon, pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, or lung cancer. Consult your doctor.

2. Fever

Fever that persists for weeks and cannot be explained by an infection or other illness could indicate blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma.

3. Fatigue

Excessive, persistent fatigue or tiredness can be a symptom of different cancers. Leukemia, colon, stomach, and liver cancer commonly cause fatigue resulting from anemia or metabolic changes. If you feel extremely fatigued without reason, see your doctor.

4. Bloating

Frequent bloating that persists for weeks may indicate ovarian, stomach, or pancreatic cancer. This occurs when cancerous tumors create fluid or gas buildup. Bloating that begins suddenly or is severe should be evaluated promptly.

5. Abdominal Pain

Pain or cramps in the stomach area or abdomen can be a sign of colon, stomach, pancreatic, bladder, or cervical cancer. Persistent abdominal pain should not be ignored, especially if it worsens after eating or is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, gas, or loss of appetite.

6. Skin Changes

Unusual moles, sores, lumps, or skin changes may be early signs of skin cancer like melanoma. Look for any new or changing lesions, or skin spots that are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, appear scaly, bleed or ooze, or have multiple colors.

7. Breast Changes

Both men and women should look for abnormalities in breast tissue including lumps, nipple discharge, or changes to the size or shape of breasts. Also note any unusual pain, swelling, or skin changes in the chest area. These may indicate breast cancer.

8. Oral Issues

Sores, swelling, lumps, or pain anywhere in the mouth or throat, trouble swallowing, and hoarseness lasting over two weeks could point to oral, throat, or esophageal cancers. White or unusually red patches in the mouth are also concerning.

9.Digestive Changes

Persistent digestive issues like difficulty swallowing, blood in stool, cramping, reduced appetite, nausea, or vomiting may be linked to colon, anal, stomach, esophageal, pancreatic, or gallbladder cancers. Note any bleeding from the rectum or blood in vomit.

10. Urinary Changes

Frequent urinary problems like urgency and frequency, pain during urination, or bloody urine are common signs of bladder and kidney cancers. Leakage of urine or fecal matter can also occur. These warrant medical evaluation, especially in people over 40.

11. Unusual Bleeding

Irregular vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause, bleeding between bowel movements, and coughing up or vomiting blood can all be associated with gynecologic, gastrointestinal, or lung cancers. Seek prompt medical help for unexplained or prolonged bleeding.

12. Lumps and Swellings

The appearance of new lumps, bumps or swellings anywhere on the body may point to tumor growth. This includes lymph nodes, soft tissues, bones, neck, armpits, groin, abdomen, and more. Lumps that persist for over 2 weeks merit examination.

13. Chronic Cough

A cough lasting longer than 3 or 4 weeks that worsens or does not improve with medicine may be a sign of lung cancer. Note any coughing up blood or mucus, raspy voice, or wheezing. If you are a smoker, be vigilant about any new cough.

14. Shortness of Breath

Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or wheezing may be associated with lung cancer. It may also point to cancers affecting the chest area. Seek emergency care for sudden or severe onset of breathing problems.

15. Unexplained Pain

New, persistent, or worsening pain in the body without known cause could stem from bone, testicular, or other cancers. Bone pain and tenderness can also indicate cancers that have spread. Get continuous pain examined promptly for diagnosis.

16. Frequent Headaches

Occasional headaches are common but an uptick in frequency or severity could indicate brain tumors. Headaches that worsen with coughing, sneezing, or movement require urgent medical care. Note headache causes like migraines or medication overuse.

17. Seizures

Sudden seizures or convulsions can be a sign of brain cancer. Seizures not associated with a known disorder like epilepsy, especially in older adults, call for imaging tests to identify the cause like tumors or cysts.

18. Mental Confusion

Extreme forgetfulness, cognitive difficulties, disorientation, and mood or personality changes may signal brain cancers. Mental function changes warrant medical assessment to determine if there is an underlying health issue.

19. Vision Issues

Vision problems like blurred or double vision, loss of vision, and floaters may stem from tumors pressing on the eye nerves or spread to the eyes. Sudden onset of any eye symptoms without injury should be evaluated medically.

20. White Patches in Mouth

Unexplained white patches or plaque on the tongue, gums, tonsils or mouth lining may be early signs of oral cancer. HPV infection is a major risk factor. Red or white patches lasting 2-3 weeks require examination and biopsy if needed.


Being alert to potential 20 cancer signs is vital for early detection. Don’t ignore any unusual, persistent changes in your body. Consult your doctor about any symptoms that concern you, especially those that don’t go away. Diagnostic tests can determine if cancer is present. Catching cancer early before it spreads makes it more treatable. While many symptoms may end up being harmless, it’s always better to be safe when your health changes without a known cause.

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