Signs of cancer

There are lots of different signs and symptoms of cancer. It’s important to remember that having any of them doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer but it’s always best to check. 

Five common signs of cancer in young people

There are five common signs of cancer in young people, these are:

  1. Lumps, bumps and swellings
  2. Unexplained tiredness
  3. Mole changes
  4. Persistent pain
  5. Significant weight change 
  • It’s important to get anything you’re not sure about checked 
  • These symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but it’s best to check

It’s really important to get checked out if you have any of the symptoms below – especially if they last for a while and you can’t explain them. 

Signs of cancer

Lumps, bumps and swellings

These could be anywhere in your body.

Signs of cancer - lumps, bumps and swellings
Signs of cancer  - unexplained tiredness

Unexplained tiredness

When you feel completely exhausted, all of the time, and even a good night’s sleep doesn’t help.

Mole changes

This could be a change in the size, shape, colour or texture of a mole, or if it starts bleeding.

Signs of cancer - Mole changes
Signs of cancer  - Persistent pain


The kind of pain that’s persistent and extreme, and doesn’t go away when you take painkillers.

Significant weight change

This could be weight loss or weight gain, when you haven’t changed your diet, how much exercise you’re doing, or any medication you’re on.

Signs of cancer  - Significant weight change

Hear from young people on the importance of getting diagnosed early:


Do you know the 5 common signs of cancer in young people aged 13-24? 🔴 Lumps, bumps and swellings 😴 Unexplained tiredness ⁉️ Mole changes ⚡️ Persistent pain ⚖️ Significant weight change #WorldCancerDay #TYACancer #CancerSymptoms

♬ original sound - Teenage Cancer Trust

Other signs of cancer and symptoms to watch out for

  • Headaches or dizziness that won’t go away
  • Getting out of breath more easily than normal
  • Bleeding you can’t explain – for instance in your urine or poo, after sex, between periods, or if you vomit
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Ongoing changes when you go for a poo – like constipation or diarrhoea (or both), pain, or feeling like you’ve not quite finished going
  • Sweating a lot at night.

It’s really important to contact your GP if you’re worried about any of these signs of cancer. 

If it turns out not to be cancer, you haven’t wasted anyone’s time. You should always be listened to and taken seriously. The NHS is actively encouraging people to contact their GP if they’re worried about possible cancer symptoms. 

If it does turn out to be cancer, then getting diagnosed early is really important, as early treatment will improve the outcome. 

Signs of cancer and talking to your doctor

Your doctor will want to know as much as possible about what’s going on, but it’s easy to forget things – so it’s worth writing everything down before your appointment. Think about: 

  • What symptoms you’ve noticed and what problems you’re having 
  • How long you’ve had the symptoms - if you have more than one symptom then it’s good to make separate notes for each of them
  • Whether the problems are permanent or come and go 
  • If you’ve noticed anything getting worse. 

If you realise that you’ve forgotten something after speaking to your doctor, it’s important to arrange another appointment. You’re never wasting your doctor’s time and it’s important that they’re aware of everything you might be concerned about. 

If you’re worried about signs of cancer...

It’s normal to feel nervous before speaking to your doctor. Plenty of people feel awkward discussing their bodies, you might also feel worried about what you could find out. 

It can help to: 

  • Write down what you want to say and any questions you want to ask beforehand  
  • Make a note of your symptoms and when you started to feel unwell 
  • Share as much information as possible – little details can make a big difference 
  • Have someone you trust go to the appointment with you for support 
  • Be open and honest – remember that doctors talk to people about all kinds of problems all day, every day 
  • Ask your doctor to repeat anything you don’t understand 
  • Make notes about the conversation that will help you remember afterwards
  • Make sure you know what will happen next before you finish the appointment 
  • It might help to make a voice recording so you can listen back to everything that’s been said but you have to ask your doctor if they’re happy for you to do this  
  • It’s important that any symptoms you might have are taken seriously. If you still feel worried after your first appointment and your symptoms are continuing then you can make another appointment.   

You can ask to see another doctor too, if that helps. Don’t worry, doctors won’t be offended if you ask for a second opinion – and remember you have a right to be taken seriously.

More information about cancer

Help us spread the word about signs of cancer

Download a printable A3 poster to help you share the five most common cancer warning signs for young people: