Five ‘unexpected’ symptoms of cancer to spot – expert advice

Early cancer diagnosis helps to pave the way to quicker treatment and possibly better prognosis. While skin cancer doesn’t tend to target your inner organs straight away, it also needs to be picked up as soon as possible. Fortunately, an expert has shared the “unexpected” signs that might otherwise slip under the radar.

Whether you are a fan of sunbeds or forget to reapply sunscreen when tanning on the beach, there are various factors that can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Mark Brown, an Oncology Nurse and Co-Founder of Dermavitality, said: “Studies have revealed that in the past decade the number of invasive melanoma cases increased every year by 27 percent. 

“This shocking figure means…preventative measures and awareness of symptoms are drastically needed. 

“[There are some] bizarre symptoms [that] could indicate skin cancer, other cancers or other illnesses. 

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“More importantly, you should always contact your doctor if you experience any sudden symptoms or changes in your body, as an early diagnosis can drastically change any prognosis.”

The expert recommended looking out for dry skin, anaemia, chapped or bloody lips, breathlessness and night sweats.

Persistently dry skin

With winter weather being taxing on skin’s moisture, occasional dry skin might be nothing to worry about.

However, if you notice a patch of skin that is persistently dry or itchy, it might be worth speaking to your doctor.

“In most instances, it will usually be something less serious, such as eczema, but visiting a doctor will still bring both your mind and skin relief,” Brown said.

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From iron deficiency to folate deficiency, anaemia is usually associated with the lack of vitamins and nutrients.

However, the most common form of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma – can sometimes present with iron deficiency anaemia, according to the expert.

The symptoms to spot can include extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, chest pain, cold hands and feet, and light-headedness.

Chapped or bloody lips

Brown said: “Dry lips are common in the winter or drier months, and can even be caused by sun exposure. [They] are usually solved by drinking more water or using a chapstick. 

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“However, if your lips continue to be excessively dry and chapped, or even start to bleed, this could suggest actinic cheilitis, a pre-cancerous condition. 

“This can turn into squamous cell carcinoma if untreated, so any prolonged dry lips should be brought to the attention of a doctor or dermatologist.”


While you might not think that skin cancer can spread to your lungs, untreated cancers, such as melanoma, can travel to this location.

Brown said: “If you are losing your breath easily, experiencing pain in your chest or have a sudden cough that refuses to go away, you should seek a diagnosis.”

Night sweats 

Skin cancer rarely causes night sweats but “increasing” evidence suggests that hormonal changes and melanoma are linked, according to the expert.

Brown said: “Any time you experience hormonal changes, there is an increased risk of night sweats, as your body is less capable of regulating its temperature. 

“As a result, night sweats are not only unpleasant but can often be a sign of some form of an underlying condition that requires a professional’s attention as soon as possible.”

While these “unexpected” symptoms could alert you to something being wrong, it’s also important to monitor any changes in your skin, from moles to freckles and patches to growths.

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