Cancer Symptoms by Disease

Here are some of the symptoms for the most common cancers. If you experience them for more than two weeks, check with your doctor. Remember, detecting cancer early can greatly increase your chances of a successful treatment.

  • New lump in the breast or armpit
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Changes in breast size, shape or skin texture
  • Skin redness
  • Dimpling or puckering
  • Nipple changes or discharge
  • Scaliness
  • Nipple pulling to one side or a change in direction

Many breast changes, including lumps, are not cancer, but if you notice one or more than two weeks, see your doctor.


  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool or toilet after a bowel movement
  • Prolonged diarrhea or constipation
  • A change in the size or shape of your stool
  • Abdominal pain or a cramping pain in your lower stomach
  • A feeling of discomfort or urge to have a bowel movement when there is no need
  • Bleeding after menopause (in more than 90% of patients)
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding before menopause
  • Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Abnormal bleeding between periods
  • Excessive vaginal discharge
  • Frequent urination
  • Hard time when starting to urinate, or trying to hold back
  • Not being able to urinate
  • Weak or interrupted urine flow
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Difficulty having an erection
  • Blood in the semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs

Many prostate symptoms are not cancer, but if you notice one or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks, see your doctor.


  • Small, hard lump that is often painless
  • Change in consistency in the testicles
  • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • Dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin
  • Sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum

Beginning at age 18, men should examine their testicles monthly. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men between the ages of 18 and 35.


  • White or velvety red patches in the mouth
  • Lumps or hardening of tissue in the mouth

If you smoke, chew or dip tobacco, or drink alcohol, you should examine your mouth regularly.


  • Change on the skin such as a:
    • New spot
    • Spot that changes in size, shape or color
  • Sore that doesn’t heal
  • Spot or sore that changes in sensation, itchiness, tenderness or pain
  • Small, smooth, shiny, pale or waxy lump
  • Firm red lump that may bleed or develops a crust
  • Flat, red spot that is rough, dry or scaly
  • Cough that will not go away and gets worse over time
  • Constant chest pain, or arm and shoulder pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
  • Repeated episodes of pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Swelling of the neck and face
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Clubbing of fingers