dermatiologist checking skin
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Changes in Your Skin

A new spot on your skin or one that changes size, shape, or color could be a sign of skin cancer. Another is a spot that doesn't look the same as all the others on your body. If you have any unusual marks, have your doctor check your skin. They will do an exam and may remove a small piece (called a biopsy) to take a closer look for cancer cells.

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woman coughing
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Nagging Cough

If you don't smoke, there's very little chance a nagging cough is a sign of cancer. Usually, it's caused by postnasal drip, asthma, acid reflux, or an infection. But if yours doesn't go away or you cough up blood -- especially if you are a smoker -- see your doctor. They may test mucus from your lungs or do a chest X-ray to check for lung cancer.

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woman doing breast check
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Breast Changes

Most breast changes are not cancer. It's still important, though, to tell your doctor about them and check them out. Let them know about any lumps, nipple changes or discharge, redness or thickening, or pain in your breasts. They'll do an exam and may suggest a mammogram, MRI, or maybe a biopsy.

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woman buttoning pants
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You may have a full, bloated feeling because of your diet or even stress. But if it doesn't get better or you also have fatigue, weight loss, or back pain, have it checked out. Constant bloating in women may be a sign of ovarian cancer. Your doctor can do a pelvic exam to look for the cause.

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dripping faucet
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Problems When You Pee

Many men have urinary issues as they get older, like the need to go more often, leaks, or a weak stream. Usually, these are signs of an enlarged prostate, but they could also mean prostate cancer. See your doctor for an exam and maybe a special blood test called a PSA test.

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doctor checking lymph nodes
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Swollen Lymph Nodes

You have these small, bean-shaped glands in your neck, armpits, and other places in your body. When they're swollen, it often means you're fighting an infection like a cold or strep throat. Some cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can also cause this kind of swelling. Talk to your doctor to pinpoint the cause.

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public restroom sign
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Blood When You Use the Bathroom

If you see blood in the toilet after you go, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. Bloody stool is likely to come from swollen, inflamed veins called hemorrhoids, but there's a chance it could be colon cancer. Blood in your pee could be a problem like a urinary tract infection, but it may be kidney or bladder cancer.

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sonogram of testicle
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Testicle Changes

If you notice a lump or swelling in your testicles, you need to see your doctor right away. A painless lump is the most common sign of testicular cancer. Sometimes though, men may just have a heavy feeling in their lower belly or scrotum or think their testicles feel larger. Your doctor will do a physical exam of the area and may use an ultrasound scan to see if there is a tumor or another problem.

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woman drinking
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Trouble Swallowing

The common cold, acid reflux, or even some medicine can make it hard to swallow once in a while. If it doesn’t get better with time or with antacids, see your doctor. Trouble swallowing can also be a sign of cancer in your throat or the pipe between your mouth and stomach, called the esophagus. Your doctor will do an exam and some tests like a barium X-ray, in which you swallow a chalky fluid to show your throat more clearly on the image.

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woman grabbing tampon
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Unusual Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding that's not part of your usual period can have many causes, like fibroids or even some types of birth control. But tell your doctor if you're bleeding between periods, after sex, or have bloody discharge. They'll want to rule out cancer of the uterus, cervix, or vagina. Be sure to let them know if you are bleeding after menopause. That's not normal and should be checked out right away.

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woman using breath freshener
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Mouth Issues

From bad breath to canker sores, most changes in your mouth aren't serious. But if you have white or red patches or sores in your mouth that don't heal after a couple of weeks -- especially if you smoke -- see your doctor. It may be a sign of oral cancer. Other things to look for: a lump in your cheek, trouble moving your jaw, or mouth pain.

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man on scale
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Weight Loss

Of course you can slim down when you change the way you eat or exercise. It can also happen if you have other issues, like stress or a thyroid problem. But it’s not normal to lose 10 pounds or more without trying. There's a chance it could be a first sign of cancer of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, lung, or other type of cancer.

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woman with fever
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A fever isn't usually a bad thing. Sometimes it's just a sign that your body is fighting an infection. It can also be a side effect of some medicines. But one that won't go away and doesn't have an obvious cause could be a sign of a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma.

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woman taking antacid
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Heartburn or Indigestion

Almost everyone has this burning feeling sometimes, often because of their diet or stress. If lifestyle changes don't work and your indigestion doesn't stop, your doctor may want to do some tests to look for a cause. It could be a sign of stomach cancer.

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tired woman
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A lot of things can make you very tired, and most of them aren’t serious. But fatigue is one early sign of some cancers, like leukemia. Some colon and stomach cancers can cause blood loss that you can't see, which can make you feel very tired. If you're wiped out all the time and rest doesn't help, talk to your doctor.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 03/16/2020 Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 16, 2020









8)SPL / Science Source











American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery: "Swallowing Trouble."

American Cancer Society: "Breast Cancer Symptoms: What You Need to Know," "Exams and tests that look for lung cancer," "How is cancer of the esophagus diagnosed?" "How is melanoma skin cancer diagnosed?" "Lymph Nodes and Cancer," "Possible symptoms of testicular cancer," "Signs and Symptoms of Cancer," "Signs and symptoms of esophagus cancer," "Signs and symptoms of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers," "Signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer," "Signs and symptoms of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer," "Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer," "Signs and symptoms of stomach cancer," "Testicular self-exam,"

American Gastroenterological Association: "Living with Gas in the Digestive Tract."

American Kidney Fund: "Blood in Urine."

Cleveland Clinic: "Rectal Bleeding," "Swollen lymph nodes."

EmergencyCareforYou: "Fever." "Heartburn." "Urinary Incontinence."

National Cancer Institute: "Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women," "Understanding Prostate Changes: A Health Guide for Men."

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: "Detecting Oral Cancer: A Guide for Health Care Professionals."

Rush University Medical Center: "Unexplained Weight Loss or Gain."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Abnormal Uterine Bleeding."

UptoDate: "Patient information: Chronic cough in adults (Beyond the Basics)."

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 16, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.