Understand Your Body

Some cancers have screening programs to detect them early, but for other cancers you need to be aware of what is normal for you and see your doctor if you notice any unusual changes.

Changes to look out for

See your doctor if you notice unusual changes like:

  • The appearance of lumps anywhere on the body.
  • Sores or ulcers that won’t heal.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Moles or skin spots that change in size, shape or colour.
  • Changes to bladder and bowel habits.
  • A persistent cough or hoarseness that won’t go away.

Men should also be aware of the following changes or symptoms:

  • Persistent changes to urination.
  • Changes to their testicles.

Women should be aware of the following changes or symptoms:

  • Changes to their breasts including lumps, lumpiness, a thickened area, unusual nipple discharge, a nipple that turns inwards (if it hasn’t always been that way), a change in shape or colour or unusual pain.
  • Unusual abdominal bloating.
  • Blood loss or spotting between periods.

Get to know what is normal for you and get checked by your doctor if something is different or you feel something is not quite right.

Checking your skin

Queensland is the skin cancer capital of the world, so it’s important to be SunSmart all year round. Nearly all skin cancers can be cured if detected and treated early.

Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt. It is important to develop a regular habit of checking your skin for new spots and changes to existing freckles or moles.


Some changes to look for include:

  • New moles;
  • Moles that increases in size;
  • An outline of a mole that becomes notched;
  • A spot that changes colour from brown to black or is varied;
  • A spot that becomes raised or develops a lump within it;
  • The surface of a mole becoming rough, scaly or ulcerated;
  • Moles that itch or tingle;
  • Moles that bleed or weep; or
  • Spots that look different from the others

Although you may notice some of these changes, it does not necessarily mean that you have skin cancer, however it is important that you see a health professional to have them investigated further.

For diagrams and more specific information about checking your skin, read our Spot the difference brochure.

Early detection of prostate cancer

While prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australian men, the causes of prostate cancer are not fully understood.

There is also no single, simple test to detect prostate cancer. The prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test is often used, but does not always reliably indicate the presence of cancer.

Cancer Council Queensland recommends that you discuss your personal risk of prostate cancer and the risks and benefits of testing with a GP. This way you can make an informed decision about whether being tested for prostate cancer is right for you.

More information

For more information about early detection call Cancer Council on 13 11 20. You can also visit Cancer Council’s cut your cancer risk website.

The information available on this page should not be used as a substitute for advice from a properly qualified medical professional who can advise you about your own individual medical needs. It is not intended to constitute medical advice and is provided for general information purposes only. See our Disclaimer.