General signs and symptoms of cancer

Being aware of general signs and symptoms of cancer is important. It can help in earlier detection and treatment. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms you should ask your doctor to check out:

  • coughing up blood;
  • blood in urine;
  • blood mixed through bowel motion (stools);
  • a change in bowel habit that lasts for three weeks or more;
  • unexplained, significant weight loss (5kg/10lbs over a couple of months);
  • a lump anywhere on your body;
  • changes on your skin or to an existing mole (such as itching, bleeding or a change in shape or colour);
  • a sore that doesn’t heal;
  • symptoms that refuse to clear up, eg a cough or hoarseness that lasts for more than three weeks.

If you regularly experience any of the above symptoms, it is important that you see your doctor and have your symptoms checked out. 

Why it’s important to talk to your doctor

If you have any of the signs and symptoms above, talk to your doctor. You are not wasting anyone's time, and if it isn't serious, your mind will be put at ease. But if it is cancer, early diagnosis can make all the difference. The sooner cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment. 

Text version of Dr Farrelly’s video.

Cancer types

You can find out about the main signs and symptoms of other cancers on the menu bar. The information about each cancer comes from a range of sources including: Northern Ireland Cancer RegistryCancer Research UK,, Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS Choices and NICE clinical guidelines.

Talk with your doctor about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information on this section is for guidance only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other healthcare professional.