This week is self-care week. The theme of the awareness week is ‘Choose Self Care for Life’. In this week’s blog, content developer Ella highlights common signs and symptoms of cancer.

If you know your body and what is normal for you, it will help you to be aware of any changes. People sometimes think a change in their body isn’t worth bothering their GP about. Or they may feel embarrassed talking about it. But if you notice a change in how you feel or how your body works, it is better to be safe and get it checked. Always see your GP if you have symptoms that are ongoing, unexplained or unusual for you.

If you have any of the symptoms listed here, see your GP. You are not wasting their time by getting your symptoms checked.

Unexplained bleeding

Any unexplained bleeding is a sign that something might be wrong. You should always get this checked by your GP.

This can include blood in your wee, poo, spit or vomit. For women, it also includes vaginal bleeding in between periods, after sex or after the menopause.

Weight loss

If you have lost weight without trying to and it can’t be explained by changes in your diet or exercise, tell your GP.


If you notice an unexplained lump or swelling anywhere on your body, see your GP. It can be useful to tell them how long it has been there and if it is getting bigger or causes discomfort.


If you have a new, unexplained pain anywhere in your body that lasts for three weeks or more, see your GP to get it checked.

Extreme tiredness

Tell your GP if you have been feeling more tired (fatigued) than usual for some time, with no obvious reason.

A sore that doesn’t heal

Most sores heal very quickly. If you have a sore or mouth ulcer that hasn’t healed after several weeks, you should get it checked by your GP.

Changes to a mole

See your GP straight away if you notice a new mole, a change in an existing mole, or a change in your skin.

An ongoing cough

Tell your GP if you have a cough that has lasted for more than three weeks, or if it gets worse.

Hoarse voice

You may get a hoarse voice if you have a cold, but if it lasts longer than three weeks you should get it checked by your GP.


It is normal to be out of breath sometimes. But you should talk to your GP if you are breathless for no reason or it is getting worse.

Change in bowel habit

Lots of things can cause looser poo or diarrhoea, but if it lasts for three weeks or more you should talk to your GP.

Problems weeing

Talk to your GP if you have any problems weeing, such as needing to wee suddenly, or pain when you wee.

Trouble swallowing

If you have any difficulty swallowing or chewing, or a feeling that something is stuck in your throat, you should get it checked by your GP.

Indigestion and heartburn

You may get indigestion or heartburn after eating a large, spicy meal. But you should see your GP if you get a lot of heartburn or indigestion, or if it is very painful.


If you feel bloated (having a swollen tummy) most of the time, talk to your GP so they can check it for you.

Night sweats

Some infections can cause night sweats and some women have them when they are going through the menopause. But if you have severe night sweats that drench your bed clothes, you should get them checked by your GP.

The earlier cancer is found, the more likely it is to be successfully treated. Knowing what symptoms to look for and when to see your GP could make a real difference.

You are not wasting your GP’s time by getting your symptoms checked. If you need support or just want someone to talk to, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00.

You can download or order our fold-out card on the signs and symptoms of the most common cancers for men and women. Or you can download or order our booklet Signs and symptoms of cancer and how to reduce your risk. You can also read all our signs and symptoms information on the Macmillan website.

To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in).

Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo