What are the symptoms of cancer?
As cancers grow or spread, they cause changes in the body. Eventually, these can cause symptoms.
Cancers can affect the body in different ways, such as:
- causing a lump or swelling
- pressing on tissues or organs, or stopping them from working properly
- producing substances that change how the body works.
The person with cancer may notice some of these changes. For example, a lump can become big enough to feel, or a cancer can press on a nerve and cause pain. These are symptoms.
Symptoms are problems that a person notices about their body, for example feeling tired, having a pain or noticing a lump.
Some cancers cause symptoms at an early stage. Others don’t cause any symptoms until they have been growing for a long time.
Recognising cancer symptoms
Most cancers are diagnosed because a person has symptoms and goes to see their doctor about them.
Cancers that are found early are easier to treat.
The symptoms of cancer depend on what type of cancer it is. For example:
- A lump in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer.
- Diarrhoea or constipation can be symptoms of bowel cancer.
- A cough can be a symptom of lung cancer.
Not all symptoms are caused by cancer. This is why people usually need tests to see whether they have cancer or another illness.
However, anyone with symptoms should go to see their doctor as soon as possible.
The Cancer Council Australia provides more information for people recently diagnosed - you can also call their support line 13 11 20.