General Health

7 Warning Signs of Cancer

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 04 February 2021, Updated on - 07 February 2023

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Every year 4th February is observed as World Cancer Day to raise awareness against the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. Cancer is a term used for a number of diseases characterized by a rapid division of abnormal cells, which may spread to other parts of the body.
The signs and symptoms of cancer usually depend on the site it affects and the stage of cancer. If the cancer has spread from its original site of infection, the signs or symptoms may also be seen in other parts of the body. Since most of the warning signs of cancer are similar to that of a general illness, a doctor would require several examinations such as x-rays, blood tests, or a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. However, there are some warning signs of cancer that must not be ignored. 

1. Unexplained weight loss

Sudden loss of weight despite having a normal appetite should be reported to a doctor. Sometimes, rapid weight loss of more than 4 kilograms with no reason is considered one of the first signs of cancer. One must consult their doctor in such a situation.

2. Abnormal bleeding

Cancer can cause abnormal bleeding in the stool, urine and sputum. Bleeding in the stool can be a sign of colorectal cancer, however, it can also be seen with haemorrhoids, infections, ulcers or sores. Similarly, kidney or bladder cancer can lead to bleeding in urine, but it could also be because of an infection or kidney stones. Bleeding from the nipples can be a sign of breast cancer. Any abnormal bleeding must be reported to a doctor. 

3. New persistent pain

Persistent pain in specific parts of the body could be an early sign of cancer. For instance, persistent pain in the head that does not get better with any treatment could be a sign of brain tumour. Similarly, constant back pain could also be a sign of colorectal or ovarian cancer. However, proper tests are required to get a confirmed diagnosis.

4. Never-ending fatigue

If a person experiences persistent, extreme tiredness even after getting an ample amount of sleep/rest, it could be an early sign of cancer. Persistent fatigue could also be due to various underlying non-cancerous diseases, thus, it must be reported to a doctor for a confirmed diagnosis. 

5. Skin changes

Skin is the largest organ of the body and can help in diagnosing various illnesses. Any sore on the skin that takes longer than usual to heal or if a mole/birthmark starts changing, it could indicate cancer. The changes can also be a sign of an infection, but one must consult a doctor based on the ABCD rule:
  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole looks different from the other
  • Border: The edges or the borders are irregular or sharp 
  • Colour: The colour of the mole or the mark changes
  • Diameter: The size of the mole or the mark gets larger than 6 millimetre, which is equivalent to the size of a pencil eraser

6. Abnormal throat changes

Any infection or heartburn can result in a sore throat. But sometimes, sudden hoarseness in the voice, persistent cough, inability to swallow and blood-filled sputum can be a sign of cancer. Any such changes must be reported to a doctor.

7. Presence of lumps

Any new lumps or mass in the body should be examined by a doctor. Lumps in the breast can be a sign of cancer, however, a person should also look for redness or scaling of the skin over the breast, pain, lump under the arm and discharge of fluid from the nipple.
Lumps can also be found in the scrotum, neck and armpit. Mostly these lumps are a sign of an infection in the body such, however, if it persists for long, one must contact a doctor.


Noticing any of the symptoms mentioned above does not conclude that a person has cancer as a series of tests are required to reach a diagnosis. Thus, any abnormal change in the body must be reported to a doctor. 

Consult a General Physician


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