Merck Manual

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Quick Facts

Warning Signs of Cancer

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2019| Content last modified Sep 2019
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Some symptoms can be warning signs of cancer. Most of the time, people who have these symptoms don’t have cancer. But because cancer is more likely to be cured if doctors find it early, it's important to tell your doctor if you have any warning signs.

What are the warning signs of cancer?

Go to a doctor if you have these warning signs of cancer—treatment works best when started early:

  • Weight loss for no known reason

  • Tiredness and fatigue

  • Night sweats

  • Not being hungry or eating as much

  • New pain that doesn't go away

  • A feeling of sickness to your stomach (or throwing up) that keeps coming back

  • Blood in your urine or stool (poop)

  • Change in your stool (too hard or too loose)

  • Fever that keeps coming back

  • Cough that doesn't go away

  • Changes in the size or color of a mole

  • Spot on your skin that doesn’t heal

  • Larger than normal lymph nodes (hard bumps under your arms or in your neck)

  • A lump in the breast

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Anosmia is the total loss of smell. Most people with anosmia can taste sweet, sour, salty, and bitter substances but cannot distinguish among specific flavors. This is because the sense of smell makes it possible to distinguish among flavors, not taste receptors as many people erroneously believe. Which of the following is NOT a common cause of anosmia?
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