Are there particular signs or symptoms of cancer?

by | Cancer Care, Videos

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One of the difficult things about cancer is there’s no single indicator, no single sign that says you’ve got cancer. The sorts of things we worry about are changes in your body that are unexplained and go on. For example, if you don’t normally cough and you start coughing and that cough just stays over and over and over one week, two weeks, three weeks, that’s a sign that there’s something going on in your lungs. It may be cancer. It might be something else. But what it really means is you need to go and be tested or be investigated. The same sorts of things apply, for example, with changes in bowel motions and changes in bowel habit.

There are some things though that are really obvious. For example, if a woman feels a lump in her breast, that is a pretty clear sign that there’s a problem that needs to be investigated. Fortunately, with good screening programmes, that is not the way that most breast cancers are now diagnosed because if you have a mammogram, when you’re supposed to, it’s very likely that you will identify that cancer at a much earlier stage long before you can feel a lump.

Professor Michael Boyer is Medical Oncologist at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse