Cancer - Signs and symptoms - NHS

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Signs and symptoms - Cancer

It's important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, such as blood in your pee or poo, a lump, persistent bloating or pain that does not go away.

These symptoms are often caused by other, non-cancerous illnesses, but it's important to speak to your GP so they can investigate. Finding cancer early means it's easier to treat.

If your GP suspects cancer, they'll refer you to a specialist – usually within 2 weeks.

The specialist will carry out further tests, such as a biopsy or X-ray, and plan any necessary treatment.

Read more about waiting times for cancer referrals and treatment.

Information:

How to contact a GP during coronavirus

To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

All GP surgeries are making sure it's safe for you to attend appointments during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Find out about using the NHS during coronavirus

Changes in bowel habits

See your GP if you've noticed these changes and it's lasted for more than a few weeks:

  • blood in your poo
  • diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
  • a feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
  • pain in your stomach (abdomen) or back passage (anus)

Bloating

See a GP if you've had bloating for 3 weeks or more.

Lump in your breast

See your GP if you notice a lump in your breast or if you have a lump that's rapidly increasing in size elsewhere on your body.

Your GP will refer you to a specialist for tests if they think you may have cancer.

Bleeding

You should also see your GP if you have any unexplained bleeding, such as:

Coughing, chest pain and breathlessness

Contact your GP if you've had a cough for more than 3 weeks.

Symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain may also be a sign of a severe (acute) condition, such as pneumonia. See your GP straight away if you experience these types of symptoms.

Unexplained weight loss

You should also see your GP if you've lost a lot of weight over the last couple of months that cannot be explained by changes to your diet, exercise or stress.

Read about unintentional weight loss.

Moles

See your GP if you have a mole that:

  • changes shape or looks uneven
  • changes colour, gets darker or has more than 2 colours
  • starts itching, crusting, flaking or bleeding
  • gets larger or more raised from the skin

Any of the above changes means there's a chance you have malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

More information

The following links have more useful information about cancer:

Page last reviewed: 17 September 2019
Next review due: 17 September 2022