Finding cancer early

Man smiling at doctor

You can find possible health problems early, including some cancers, if you know your body and what is normal for you. When cancer is found early, it’s often easier to treat. Don’t ignore any changes to how your body feels. Tell your doctor about them. The sooner you report signs to your doctor, the sooner a problem can be dealt with.

When to see your doctor

Regular checkups are important because healthcare professionals like doctors are trained to spot the early warning signs of cancer. But even if you’ve recently seen your doctor for a checkup, it’s important to report any of these changes as soon as possible:

  • a new or unusual lump or swelling in the breast, testicles or any other part of the body
  • any sore which does not heal anywhere on your body or in your mouth
  • obvious change in the shape, size or colour of a mole or wart
  • a nagging cough, hoarseness or a croaky voice 
  • difficulty swallowing
  • blood in the urine, stool or phlegm
  • unusual bleeding or discharge of any sort from the nipple or vagina
  • any change in bladder habits, such as pain or difficulty urinating
  • any change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea) that last more than a few weeks
  • persistent indigestion
  • unexplained weight loss, fever or fatigue
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • any new growth on the skin, or patches of skin that bleed, itch or become red

Having any of these signs doesn’t always mean that you have cancer. They may be due to some other medical problem, or they may not be serious at all. Only your doctor can tell for sure.

  • What about screening?

    If you’re in a certain age or population group, you can also have screening tests that help find breast, cervical and colorectal cancer before you’ve even noticed symptoms.