It's important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine, or a changeto your usual bowel habits.

These symptomsare often caused by other, non-cancerousillnesses, but it'simportant to see your GP sothey can investigate.

If your GP suspects cancer, they'll refer you to a specialist usually within two weeks.

The specialist will carry out further tests, such as a Biopsy or X-ray , and plan any necessary treatment.

See your GP straight away if you experience these types of symptoms.

Changes in bowel habits

See your GP if you've experienced one of the changes listed below and it's lasted for more than a few weeks:

  • blood in your stools
  • diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
  • a feeling of not having fully emptied your bowelsafter going to the toilet
  • pain in your stomach (abdomen) orback passage (anus)
  • persistent bloating


You should also see your GP if you have any unexplained bleeding, such as:

  • blood in your urine
  • bleeding between periods
  • bleeding from your bottom
  • blood when you cough
  • blood in your vomit


See your GP if you have a mole that:

  • has an irregular or asymmetrical shape
  • has an irregular border with jagged edges
  • has more than one colour it may be flecked with brown, black, red, pinkorwhite
  • is bigger than 7mm in diameter
  • is itchy, crusting or bleeding

Any of the above changes means there's a chance you have malignant melanoma , a form of skin cancer.

Unexplained weight loss

You should also see your GP if you've lost a lot of weight over the last couple of months that can't be explained by changes to your diet, exercise or stress .

Read about unintentional weight loss .

More information

The following links have more useful information about cancer.

Cancer Research UK: cancer symptom checker

Macmillan: signs and symptoms of cancer

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): referral for suspected cancer

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 15 Sep 2016