Common signs and symptoms of cancer

We understand how sensitive this matter is but unfortunately, cancer has affected all of us in some way or another, whether it has been you personally, a friend, a family member or acquaintance. Being aware of the general symptoms of cancer is really important and it can help in earlier detection.

Please remember that most of the symptoms on the following list can often be caused by something other than cancer. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of cancer:

Unexplained weight loss

Unexplained weight loss

If you are losing a lot of weight for no reason and haven’t changed your diet or exercise habits, you need to see a doctor. A dramatic loss of ten or more pounds can be a sign of some cancers. If you have this symptom, please see a doctor to find out what’s going on.


Persistent indigestion and the feeling of not being able to swallow can be a sign of cancer of the oesophagus, stomach or throat.

Change in bowel habits

Changes in bladder function must be reported to your doctor. Bladder changes such as constipation or diarrhoea can be associated with colon cancer.  Changes in your usual bladder function, passing urine more often or less often can be related to bladder or prostate cancer.

Unusual bleeding

Abnormal bleeding can be a sign of early or advanced cancer. Unusual vaginal bleeding can be a sign of cancer of the cervix, coughing up blood may be a sign of lung cancer and blood in urine can be a sign of bladder or kidney cancers.

Any unusual bleeding or discharge should be checked by your doctor. A pelvic MRI can be used to check for cervical, uterine, bladder, rectal, prostate and testicular cancers.


Pain that won’t go away is something your doctor needs to know whatever the cause. Back and neck pain, adnominal or stomach pains, headaches that don’t clear up and any other persistent pain no matter the location, can be the first sign of cancer.

Back and neck pain can be a sign of cancer or tumour in the spine. Back pain can also be a symptom of cancer of the colon, rectum and ovary.  Pain around your body can be also associated with bone cancers or testicular cancer.


Thickening or lumps can be usually felt in the breasts, testicles, lymph nodes and the soft tissues of the body. A lump should always be reported to your doctor, especially if you have noticed the lump has grown in size or changed in any way.


Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer. If the symptoms are persistent then you need to contact your GP for a check-up.


MRI scans can be used to find a tumour, to measure and monitor tumours and check how well a treatment is working. MRI can detect cancer and with the use of the scans, doctors can determine if a tumour is benign or malignant.

Contact us to find out how to request a referral to Newcastle Clinic.