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Signs and symptoms - Cancer

It's important to be aware of any new or worrying symptoms.

Although it's unlikely to be cancer, it's important to speak to a 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.

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

Speak to a GP if you've noticed these changes and it's lasted for 3 weeks or more:

  • tummy discomfort
  • 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 or back passage (anus)

Bloating

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

Bleeding

You should also speak to a GP if you have any unexplained bleeding, such as:

Coughing, chest pain and breathlessness

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

Symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain may also be a sign of a condition such as pneumonia. Speak to a GP straight away if you have these types of symptoms.

Lump in your breast

Speak to a 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.

Moles

Speak to a 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.

Unexplained weight loss

You should also speak to a 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.

More information

The following links have more useful information about cancer:

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