10 early signs of cancer

Patsy Westcott / 24 January 2017

Fast diagnosis is key to successfully treating this deadly disease, so be aware of potential symptoms. GP Dr Mark Shapley tells us what to look out for.



1. Rectal bleeding: Blood in the toilet bowel or on loo paper (can be a sign of bowel cancer).

What are the early symptoms of bowel cancer?

2. Change in bowel habit: Diarrhoea, constipation or a mixture of the two that is unusual for you (bowel cancer).

Bowel cancer warning signs

3. Blood in the urine: Cancer of the urinary system – urethra, bladder, ureter and kidney.

4. Coughing up blood (lung cancer).

Eight surprising symptoms of lung cancer

5. Difficulty swallowing (cancer of head, neck or throat).

6. Iron deficiency anaemia (bowel cancer).

7. Post-menopausal bleeding (cancer of ovaries, uterus, vagina, cervix).

Ovarian cancer: what you need to know

8. Positive rectal exam – finger test (prostate cancer).

Prostate cancer: symptoms, risk factors and treatment

9. Breast lump or change in breasts (breast cancer).

Seven less obvious breast cancer symptoms

10. Any persistent change in your body, including unexplained weight loss.

The above can have benign causes but it’s better to be safe than sorry. So if you spot anything unusual, don’t delay in seeing your doctor.

For new ways to cut your cancer risk, see the February issue of Saga Magazine.

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