Signs & Symptoms of Cancer

It’s natural to wonder about whether you might have cancer—particularly if a family member has received a cancer diagnosis. You may also wonder about some of the signs or symptoms of the disease.

It may also be helpful to you to see if you have an increased risk for a specific type of cancer. These online risk assessments provide more information about the most common types of cancer, and may shed light on your likelihood of getting cancer.

Because cancer can occur in almost any part of the body, recognizing the signs or symptoms can be difficult. In some instances, you may experience visible changes in your body, such as a lump underneath that you can see and touch. In some other instances, you may feel pain or pressure in a certain area that could be caused by cancer.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer symptoms, however, may be less obvious. They include:

  • Changes in skin color, such as yellowing of the skin or eyes or a darkening of the skin—or changes in the size, shape or color of a mole or freckle
  • Unexplained changes in bowel or bladder function, such as needing to go more often or having long-term constipation
  • Extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve after resting
  • Fever and/or night sweats
  • Pain, including bone pain, that doesn’t go away with treatment or rest
  • Unexplained weight loss of 10-15 pounds or more and/or reduced appetite
  • Unusual bruising that cannot be explained

Keep in mind that not every change in your body or symptom you feel is a sign you have cancer; in fact, most people will never get cancer in his or her lifetime. It is, however, a signal that you need to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your concerns. Together, you can determine if a cancer screening or test is appropriate for you.