As summer approaches, millions of women around the UK will be preparing their bodies for summer clothes with healthy eating, exercise and trips to the salon. But will they be paying as much attention to checking for signs of what is happening on the inside?

This summer, Cancer Research UK is launching a new leaflet, ‘Wish you knew the signs of cancer?’ The leaflet is designed to give women information about some of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer, and encourage anyone experiencing them to visit their doctor. While these symptoms will usually turn out to be due to something else, if it is cancer, finding it early will offer the best chance of successful treatment.

Sara Hiom, deputy director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Today, more people than ever are surviving cancer. This is thanks in part to early detection.

“When cancer is found early, it’s easier to treat and many people can be cured. That’s why it’s so important to know what’s normal for your body and to look out for any changes. While cancer is primarily a disease that affects older people, if you do notice anything unusual, you should see your doctor, whatever age you are.”

Symptoms outlined in the leaflet include:

  • A cough or croaky voice that lasts longer than three weeks
  • Difficulty swallowing or persistent indigestion
  • A mouth or tongue ulcer that lasts longer than three weeks
  • An unusual lump or swelling anywhere on your body
  • An unusual breast change
  • A sore that won’t heal after several weeks
  • A change in size, shape or colour of a mole
  • Problems passing urine
  • Blood in your urine
  • Blood in your bowel motions
  • A change to more frequent bowel motions that lasts longer than six weeks
  • Bleeding from the vagina after the menopause or between periods
  • Unexplained weight loss or heavy night sweats
  • An unexplained pain or ache that lasts longer than four weeks.

Lindsey O’Reilly, 44, from Wiltshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. Lindsey said: “I was shocked when I found a lump in my breast, but fortunately I didn’t waste any time in visiting my doctor. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I’m now fit and well.

“A leaflet highlighting what to look out for is a great idea, and I’d advise anyone who’s noticed a sign or symptom that could indicate cancer to do exactly what I did – see your doctor straight away. Don’t be worried you’re wasting their time – if it’s cancer it’s not going to go away on its own.”

Two versions of ‘Wish you knew the signs of cancer?’, one for women and one for men, will be available free of charge from May. You can order online at the Reduce the Risk homepage or by calling 020 7061 8333.

For more information visit Reduce the Risk.


For media enquiries, case study interviews or copies of the leaflet, please contact Lisa Flanagan or Anna Hilton on 020 7061 8308 / 8314 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.


About Cancer Research UK

  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
  • Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
  • Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820 or visit our homepage.

About Reduce the Risk

  • Reduce the Risk is a health campaign from Cancer Research UK which aims to raise awareness about the avoidable risks of cancer and the importance of early detection
  • Half of all cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle.
  • People can help reduce their cancer risk by following five key pieces of advice:
    • Stop smoking – It’s the best present you’ll ever give yourself
    • Stay in shape – Be active and keep a healthy body weight
    • Eat and drink healthily – Limit alcohol and choose a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
    • Be SunSmart – Protect yourself in the sun and take care not to burn
    • Look after number one – Know your body and see your doctor about anything unusual. Go for screening when invited.
  • Visit Reduce the Risk to find out more.