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Cancer Red Flag Symptoms Cheat Sheet by

Presenting symptoms that require referral to a doctor


Over 40's with:
Persistent cough for > 3 weeks
Recurrent chest infections
Coughing up blood
Repeat purchases of cough medicines

Mouth & Throat

Red & white patches on tongue or mouth ulcers for >3 weeks
Unexpl­ained lump on the neck, lips or mouth
Repeat purchases of mouth ulcer medicines
Difficulty swallo­wing*
*Immediate referral needed

Head & Neck

Unexpl­ained lump in neck
Over 45's with:
Persistent hoarseness for >4 weeks
Unexpl­ained ulcers for >3 weeks
Repeat purchases of lozenges and throat medicines


Over 45's with:
Blood in urine
Change to toilet habits for >4 weeks
Problems peeing


Over 30's with:
Unexpl­ained lump with or without pain
Area of persistent skin changes
Unexpl­ained lump in armpit

Upper GI

Over 55's with:
Unexpl­ained weight loss
Persistent indige­sti­on/­nau­sea­/vo­miting for>3 weeks
Food sticking on swallowing
Difficulty swallo­wing*
Sores or ulcers for >3 weeks
Upper abdo pain & weight loss/d­ysp­epsia
Repeat purchase of indige­stion medicines
*Immediate referral needed

Lower GI

Over 40's with:
Unexpl­ained weight loss & pain
Over 50's with:
Unexpl­ained rectal bleeding
Over 60's with:
Changes in bowel habit
Repeat purchases of haemor­rhoid medicines or loperamide

Skin moles

New moles lasting >4 weeks
Signif­icant changes on existing moles

Unexpl­ained Symptoms

Any lumps (painful or not)
Appetite loss or weight loss
Heavy night sweats
Pain or aching


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