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What are the most common signs and symptoms of cancer?

Your symptoms may depend on the type of cancer you have, how far it has progressed, where it is, and how far it has spread in your body.
Cancer can cause almost any type of sign or symptom.

A sign is something others can see, such as fever, vomiting, or rapid breathing. Symptoms are only noticed by the person who has them. For example, weakness, fatigue, and pain are symptoms. You may have signs and symptoms of cancer. Which may indicate that something is wrong with your body. Recognizing these indicators can allow for earlier diagnosis and possibly better insights.

How does cancer cause signs and symptoms?

When cancer grows, it can grow into nearby organs, nerves, and blood vessels. Which can cause signs and symptoms. Even the smallest tumors can cause symptoms in certain organs, such as the brain. If your cancer spreads, or metastasizes, you may notice signs or symptoms in different parts of your body. Another reason you might experience symptoms is that cancer cells use up a lot of your body’s energy. They also cause changes in how your immune system works.

The main signs and symptoms of cancer

Although each case is different, some general signs and symptoms of cancer are identified and identified.


Unexplained weight loss can be one of the first signs of cancer. Weight loss is common in people with cancer of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, or lung, but it can occur with any type of cancer.


Fevers often occur when the cancer has metastasized. Night sweats often accompany fevers. Almost everyone with cancer will have a fever at some point.


Feeling extremely tired can be a symptom of cancer in your body.

a lump

A lump or thickening of the skin can be an early or late sign of cancer. People with cancer of the breast, lymph nodes, soft tissues, and testicles often have lumps.

skin changes

Yellowing, darkening, or redness of the skin may indicate cancer. In addition, non-healing wounds should be examined. Also, moles, freckles, or warts that change color, shape, or size can be a sign of skin cancer.

The pain

Most of the time, the pain is because the cancer has already spread throughout your body. But pain can be an early symptom of bone or testicular cancer. Back pain is common in people with colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, or ovarian cancer. People with a brain tumor often complain of a headache that does not go away.

Changes in bowel or bladder function

Constipation, diarrhea, and other intestinal problems can be signs of colorectal cancer. People with bladder or prostate cancer may report pain when urinating, blood in the urine, or other changes in bladder function.

cough or hoarseness

A persistent cough or a hoarse voice can be signs of lung, laryngeal, or thyroid cancer.


Indigestion or trouble swallowing can be a sign of cancer of the stomach, esophagus, or throat.


Unusual bleeding is associated with many different types of cancer. Coughing up blood can be a sign of lung cancer. Bloody stools can be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. Women with cervical or endometrial cancer may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding. Blood in your urine may mean you have bladder or kidney cancer. Bloody discharge from a woman’s nipple may indicate breast cancer.

changes in the mouth

White spots inside the mouth or on the tongue may be pre-cancers that can develop into oral cancer. Sores, bleeding, or numbness in the mouth can also be a sign of certain types of cancer.

swollen lymph nodes

Sometimes swollen lymph nodes can indicate cancer. If your nodes remain swollen for three to four weeks, you should ask your doctor to examine you.

To be out of breath

Constant shortness of breath can be a sign of certain types of cancer.


A constant, uncomfortable feeling of fullness that lasts every day for weeks could be a sign of ovarian cancer.


Several types of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma, can cause anemia (a low number of red blood cells). These abnormal levels show up on blood tests. Anemia can make you feel tired and weak.

Most of the time, these symptoms are not caused by cancer. A benign tumor or other problem may be the cause. But you shouldn’t ignore symptoms that are persistent, severe, or don’t go away.

Signs that your cancer is spreading

Symptoms may be different or more severe if your cancer has spread to other parts of your body.

Here are some common symptoms of cancer that has spread:

Bone metastases: Cancer that has spread to the bones can cause joint pain or fractures.

Liver metastases: If your disease has invaded your liver, you may experience jaundice and abdominal swelling.

Brain metastases: When cancer metastasizes to the brain, symptoms may include headaches, slurred speech, blurred vision, or dizziness.

Lung metastasis: Cancer that has spread to the lungs can cause shortness of breath or a persistent cough.

Can cancer cause weight gain?

Although weight loss is a more common symptom of cancer, some people experience weight gain. Studies show that more than half of women with breast cancer gain weight during treatment. Those extra kilos are related to worse results.

Being overweight can be a side effect of medications such as steroids or hormones. Also, some chemotherapy drugs can cause fluid retention, called edema. You can increase your body weight.

Why does cancer cause back pain?

Most cases of back pain are not caused by cancer, but back pain can be an indicator. Back pain is a symptom of many types of cancer. Including primary bone cancer and those that have metastasized to the breast, colon, testicles, or lungs. Tumors usually put pressure on the spine and affect the nerves around it, causing pain.

Why it is important to notice the symptoms of cancer

Identifying symptoms can help you and your doctor find your cancer sooner. This is important because the earlier the cancer is found, the better the prognosis. For example, melanoma can be treated effectively if detected early. The five-year survival rate is about 98% if the cancer hasn’t grown deep into the skin. Although the symptoms are most likely not caused by cancer, you should not rule them out. This is especially true if the problem has lasted a long time or has gotten worse.

Some cancers do not cause symptoms

Sometimes people with cancer have no signs or symptoms. Others only have problems when the cancer has spread throughout the body. For example, ovarian cancer usually doesn’t cause a noticeable problem until it spreads to other organs. When this cancer does cause signs or symptoms, it is usually very advanced and difficult to cure. Cancers can be found before you have symptoms. Screening tests and exams can find certain types of cancer in your body before they start to affect you.

Ask your doctor if you need to undergo any special tests. If you have a family history of a certain type of cancer or have been exposed to specific risk factors, your doctor may perform more aggressive tests.

When should you see your doctor for a checkup?

It’s always a good idea to see your doctor if you have any symptoms that worry you. Your symptoms are most likely caused by something else, but it’s important to get it checked out just in case. At a minimum, your doctor can help you determine the cause of your problems.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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