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.

General 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 or blood in motion.
  • A persistent cough or hoarseness that won’t go away.

Remember, you should see your doctor straight away if you notice any unusual changes – no matter your age or the time since your last check-up.

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.
  • 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.

Be breast aware

It’s important to be familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts.

Look out for the following changes:

  • A lump, lumpiness or thickening.
  • Changes in the skin including dimpling, puckering or redness.
  • Changes in the nipple direction or an unusual discharge.
  • An area that feels different.
  • Unusual pain.
  • A change in the shape or size of a breast.

See your doctor if you notice something different. Most changes are not due to breast cancer however it’s important to have them checked straight away.

Additional changes or symptoms that women should be aware of include:

  • Unusual abdominal bloating.
  • Blood loss or spotting between periods.

Early detection of prostate cancer

There is 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.

Additional changes or symptoms that men should be aware of include:

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

Learn more about screening services for men and women.

More information

For more information about early detection call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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.