Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

The words “sign” and “symptom” are often used interchangeably. However, medically speaking, they actually describe two different ways of identifying abnormalities in the body. A sign is a signal that can be seen by someone else. For instance, excessive sweating may be an indication to someone else that you have a fever. A symptom is felt by the person who has it, like feeling extremely warm if you have a fever. A doctor will evaluate both signs and symptoms when making a diagnosis.

Signs & Symptoms of Cancer

It is nearly impossible to say that a certain group of signs and symptoms is indicative of cancer. Cancer can take so many different forms and manifest in so many different ways that every patient will likely exhibit a different range of signs and symptoms. In some cases, cancer remains asymptomatic (without symptoms) until it has progressed to a late stage.

The following general symptoms are not necessarily signs of cancer. However, if you experience them for a prolonged period of time and they seem to get worse, contact a doctor immediately. These signs can be easily remembered as C-A-U-T-I-O-N, an acronym created by the American Cancer Society:

  • Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A sore throat that doesn’t heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening of a lump in the breast, testicles or elsewhere
  • Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
  • Obvious change in the shape, size or color of a mole or sore
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness

Other causes for concern include persistent fatigue, a prolonged fever, chronic pain, skin changes or unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite.

When to See a Doctor

If you are experiencing health problems or other symptoms that you think may indicate cancer, see a doctor immediately. BayCare offers highly trained specialists throughout the Tampa Bay area who can evaluate your condition, provide you with a diagnosis and get you the treatment you require.

Find a doctor near you or call (855) 314-8346 to learn more about your options for cancer diagnosis and treatment in Tampa, Clearwater, Winter Haven, Riverview, St. Petersburg and the surrounding areas. You can also read more about Cancer Basics and get answers to Frequently Asked Questions about cancer.