7 signs of cancer : Warning Signs that Must not be Ignored

what are signs of cancer


Cancer is a disease process that usually begins when there is a genetic change (mutation) in the genes that control cell growth. This genetic changes called mutations cause abnormal and uncontrollable cell growth.

Cancer cells are almost always malignant (harmful) and they have invasive characteristics. In order words, that they easily invade other tissues and surrounding cells due to their abnormal growth, this is known as Metastasis

It is important to know that some cancer cells are Benign which means that they do not invade nearby tissues and cells and do not spread to other parts of the body like malignant cancer cells.

The mutations that causes cancer can be passed either from parent to offspring or triggered by exposure to harmful organisms and substances in the environment.

In this article, we are going to look at the risk factors of cancer, the 7 signs of cancer.


Common misconception about Cancer: Distinguishing the Facts from Fiction

Saying that cancer cells proliferate or grow at a rapid rate compared to normal cell is incorrect. Cancer cells proliferate at the same rate as normal cells.

However; normal cells proliferation is regulated according to the body’s needs. But with cancer cells proliferation is indiscriminate & continuous proliferating cells rely on Telomeres at the end of chromosomes consisting of repeated genetic code.

Each time a cell divides the telomeres gets shorter and a small sequence of genetic material is not copied, eventually the telomeres reach a critical length and then the cell is unable to undergo further cell division and cell death occurs.

Cancer cells produce an enzyme Telomerase that prevents telomere shortening, hence promoting immortality of the cell.

Major Defects Present In Cancer Cellular Proliferation

1. Stem cells are present in most human cells, stem cells are viewed as target and or origin of cancer cells.

2. According to stem cell theory, a mutation of stem cells results from loss of intracellular control of proliferation or growth.

3. Normal cells exhibit contact inhibition which means that they respect boundaries or territories of neighbouring cells. However, cancer cells lack contact inhibition, they grow on top of one another or between normal cells.

4. Cell division in cancer is dysregulated & haphazard.


Risk Factors and Agents that can Cause Cancer

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Radiation
  • Chronic irritants
  • Tobacco
  • Asbestos
  • Age
  • Diet high in free radicals, sulphites, nitrates and other additives
  • Hormones
  • Toxic chemical such as pesticides
  • Air pollution
  • Fried foods
  • Hormones
  • Role of the immune system

7 Signs of Cancer

To remember the 7 signs of cancer use the MNEMONIC CAUTION

Changes in bowel or bladder habits

A sore that does not heal

Unusual bleeding or discharge

Thickening or lump in the breast or any other part of the body

Indigestion or difficulty swallowing

Obvious change in a wart or mole

Nagging cough or hoarseness


Changes in bowel or bladder Habitsrisk factors for prostate cancer

To put things plainly, this is basically when you start noticing changes in your pees and poops. This may be anything from ongoing constipation, diarrhea, occasional pain when passing stool and a change in the size of your stools are all reasons for concern. By the same token, if you are having difficulty passing urine or notice blood in your urine, you should have it checked out as soon as possible. Prostate cancer is one example of a cancer that usually presents with a change in bladder habits.


A sore that does not healfactors that increase risk of cancer

A sore that does not heal is a typical sign of cancer. They are usually Persistent and recurrent and do not heal despite treatments.

Cancers that commonly present as sores that do not heal are oral cancer, skin cancers and cancers of the genitals. If you are experiencing this symptom, you should be examined by your nurse practitioner or doctor.


Unusual bleeding or discharge

Bleeding from any part of your body should be a reason for concern as that is not normal. If you notice blood in your saliva, stool, urine, mouth, vagina, penis and so on please let your nurse practitioner or doctor know.

Bloody streaks in your phlegm or nasal mucus are also reason for concern. Foul smelling discharge or blood from your vagina should be looked at by your doctor. In most cases this merely indicates an infection, but have it checked out anyway.

Cancers that commonly present in this way are lung cancers(coughing up blood), uterine cancer or cervix cancer (bleeding or discharge from the vagina)


Thickening or lump in the breast or any other part of the body

Any lump or bump that enlarges, hardens or changes the skin above should be examined for possibility of being cancerous.

For adults, be sure to palpate your breasts and testicles should regularly be palpated to check for any changes in contour, size, and hardness. It is important to remember that cancerous growths are in most cases painless.


Indigestion or difficulty swallowingfoods that increase the risk of cancer

Indigestion and difficulty swallowing very common with cancers of the throat or neck because as the cancer tumor grows the surrounding area such as the esophagus become narrowed which causes difficulty in swallowing. In addition, cancer also causes indigestion especially in esophageal cancer. If you are experiencing any of this symptom seek medical help.


Obvious change in a wart or mole

If you have a mole or wart and all of a sudden for some reasonlung cancer sign and symptom you notice that there are changes in the shape, contour, color or size that should be a reason for concern, you should seek medical help pronto.


Nagging cough or hoarseness

Having a nagging cough or persistent hoarseness may indicate cancer of the larynx or any structure of the neck. A change in your voice that does not go away is also another sign and you should seek medical help for further investigation.


Bottom Line

It is important to note that the above symptoms can also arise due to other conditions and are not always a sign of cancer.

Also, under no circumstance should the information in this article be used as a medical diagnosis for cancer.

Be sure to see your nurse practitioner or doctor if you have any of these symptoms for accurate diagnosis.

Please always visit your nurse practitioner or doctor for regular checkups. Do not wait to feel pain, as early cancer usually does not cause any pain.

Finally, the warning signs of cancer that an individual experience may depend highly on the type of cancer (Malignant or benign) and the area of the body affected (e.g breast, lung, brain, stomach, prostate etc).

If you have any feedback, questions or concerns about this article. I would love to hear from you. Kindly leave your comments in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading!

16 Replies to “7 signs of cancer : Warning Signs that Must not be Ignored”

  1. Hi Pam, thank you for this article, l have learned something new, i always thought that cancer cells grow faster than the normal cells.
    your website is very helpful.
    keep up the good job.

  2. I dislike that 6 letter word (cancer).

    Thank you for sharing this informative article. You have researched the topic and presented the facts in a very good and easy reading manner. Hope this will cause readers to become more aware of the signs of cancer and pay attention to the signals the body often gives us as warnings.

  3. Great post and good info.

    The signs are obvious in my eyes, because having one of them should put a red flag immediately that something isn’t right. Now many people don’t know about it and ignore it and think it will get better, but instead, it only gets worse. 

    Personally, I do a blood check every year, just to be sure. 

    I will re share your post because it has vital info and it can save lives! 

    1. Hi Emmanuel,

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad to hear that you do blood checks every year. I also hope that you get a physical every year too because that is also important as well. Thank you for reading and have a great day!



  4. This is the disease of the century and sadly there are too many people suffering from this disease. Regular check-ups are recommended and we should take care of us and our bodies. 

    Nowadays, all the things are done on fast forward mode and we neglect and don’t listen to our bodies. At early signs, we should go and do a proper check up.

    Thank you for your educational article.

    1. Hi Dany,

      I agree with you 100% we should always take care of our bodies 100%. Thank you for your comment and have a great day! 



  5. Hi Pam – thank you for sharing this informative article. Unfortunately, I have lost too many friends to cancer, and your advice offers some useful insight into what to look out for. It’s a subject that some find difficult to talk about, especially men, who are always reluctant to go to the doctor. I always pay careful attention to my moles, as I have very pale skin and burn easily in the sun, which is dangerous of course. All the best, Diane 

    1. Hi Diane,

      I am so sorry to hear about your loss but I am happy that you found this article useful. I wish you all the best!



  6. Pam, thanks for your article. It is very important to watch the signals of your body. My father died in cancer many years ago. He went to the doctor too late. I learned a lot about cancer during his treatment. It gave him 2 more years with good condition. 

    I am sure that many of the readers of this article will learn a lot from it and will remember the signs of cancer if it appears. Hope it won’t…

    1. Hi Gno,

      I am sorry to hear about your loss but happy to hear that you know a lot about cancer. I hope you found the article useful. Thank you Gno and have a great day!



  7. Cancer is a disease that should never be taken lightly. It is very deadly and we should always be on the lookout for the signs of cancer. Like you said, not everything listed here can is an indication of cancer. Some might just be an indication of some other ailment. 

    When you say stomach cancer, can you please elaborate on that.

    1. Hi Jay,

      Stomach cancer is a type of cancer that occurs due to abnormal masses or cells growing in an around the stomach organ. It can be very dangerous and can cause serious injestion and digestion issues. I hope that answers your question.

      Thank you for your comment



  8. First of all i wanna say thank you for bringing this article to my knowledge, by telling is the symptoms and causes of cancer after I was done reading this article i got to understand alot about cancer  but I really want to know more about the treatment available for cancer patients or if there is a cure? 

    1. Hi Seun,

      Thank you for your comments. Depending on the time and stage of cancer the treatment is usually chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery and I will be creating a new post on cancer treatment. Thank you and have a great day!



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