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Symptoms and Signs of 18 Common Cancer Symptoms and Signs

Doctor's Notes on 18 Common Cancer Symptoms and Signs

Cancer is the second most common cause of death after heart disease. Cancer is more likely to be curable when detected early. Risk factors for cancer include smokers, heavy alcohol use, high sun exposure, and genetics.

Cancer often has no specific symptoms, so it is important to limit their risk factors and undergo appropriate cancer screening. The best way to fight cancer is prevention and early detection. Some common symptoms of different cancers may include persistent cough or blood-tinged saliva (cancer of the lung, head, and neck), changed in bowel habits (colon cancer), blood in the stool (colorectal cancer), unexplained anemia (bowel cancers), breast lump or discharge (breast cancer), lumps in the testicles (testicular cancer), changes in urination (prostate cancer or bladder cancer), blood in the urine (bladder or kidney cancer), hoarseness (throat cancer), change in a wart or a mole (skin cancer), indigestion or difficulty swallowing (esophageal cancer), unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge (uterine cancer), and Back pain, pelvic pain, bloating, or indigestion (ovarian cancer). Other nonspecific symptoms of cancers include persistent lumps or swollen glands, unexpected weight loss, night sweats, fever, continued itching in the anal or genital area, non-healing sores, and headaches.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.