How does cancer cause signs and symptoms?
Cancer is a group of diseases that can cause almost any sign or symptom. The signs and symptoms will depend on where the cancer is, how big it is, and how much it affects the organs or tissues. If a cancer has spread (metastasized), signs or symptoms may appear in different parts of the body.
As a cancer grows, it can begin to push on nearby organs, blood vessels, and nerves. This pressure causes some of the signs and symptoms of cancer. If the cancer is in a critical area, such as certain parts of the brain, even the smallest tumor can cause symptoms.
What are some general signs and symptoms of cancer?
You should know some of the general signs and symptoms of cancer. But remember, having any of these does not mean that you have cancer – many other things cause these signs and symptoms, too. If you have any of these symptoms and they last for a long time or get worse, please see a doctor to find out what’s going on.
- Persistent cough or hoarseness – could indicate lung cancer
- A change in the appearance of a mole – could mean you’re suffering skin cancer
- A persistent change in bowel habits – could be a sign of bowel cancer
- A sore that does not heal – depends on where, a mouth ulcer could mean mouth cancer
- Persistent difficulty swallowing – can mean a person is suffering oesophageal cancer
- Unexplained weight loss – can indicate several types of cancer
- Persistent change in bladder habits – could be a sign of bladder cancer and prostate cancer in men
- An unexplained lump – can be a warning sign of many forms of the disease
- Persistent unexplained pain – depending on where, can denote many types of cancer
- Unexplained bleeding – depends where but can mean bowel, cervical or vulval cancer
The signs and symptoms listed above are the more common ones seen with cancer, but there are many others that are not listed here. If you notice any major changes in the way your body works or the way you feel – especially if it lasts for a long time or gets worse – let a doctor know.