Most of the possible signs and symptoms of cancer that we notice turn out to be something that isn’t serious. For example, a new mole or lump or a headache that won’t go away is not likely to be cancer, but should be checked out by a doctor just to be sure. That gives you the best chance of getting the problem treated, whether it’s cancer or something else. For many health conditions, treatment works better the earlier it’s started.
It would be helpful if our bodies gave us a clear message when we had cancer, but cancer is complicated. It’s a group of diseases that can cause almost any sign or symptom, depending on where it starts or even where it has spread. What makes it even more complicated is that many other health problems that aren’t cancer can cause the same signs and symptoms as cancer does.
If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, get them checked out – especially if they last for a long time or get worse. Usually whatever is causing the problem isn't cancer, but seeing a doctor is the only way to find out.
These signs and symptoms are more common, but they aren’t the only indications of cancer. If you notice any major changes in the way your body works or the way you feel – especially if it lasts for a long time or gets worse – let a doctor know.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
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