Signs and Symptoms of the Most Common Types of Cancer

Breast cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, lung cancer and melanoma are some of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the United States. Each year, over 670,200 Americans are diagnosed with one of these types of cancer.


Breast Cancer

Over 230,000 women and 2,300 men in the United States are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. Most commonly, breast cancer begins in the cells that line the ducts that transport milk to the nipples, but it may also begin in the cells of milk-producing glands, called lobules.

Symptoms of this type of cancer may including the following:

  • A thickening or lump in the breast
  • Pitting of the skin over the breast
  • Bloody discharge originating from the nipples
  • Flaking, peeling or scaling of breast skin
  • Change in the appearance, shape or size of a breast

Kidney Cancer

The most common type of cancer of the kidneys is renal cell carcinoma, which begins in the cells that line the tubes that move waste molecules out of the bloodstream and into the urine.

Symptoms of kidney cancer may include the following signs, most prevalent during the later stages of the disease:

  • Pink, cola-colored or red blood in the urine
  • Intermittent fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain that does not subside


This common type of cancer affects the tissues that form blood in the body, including the lymphatic system and bone marrow. There are many different types of leukemia, but most change the way the white blood cells grow, function and fight infections.

Symptoms of this type of cancer vary depending on the exact type of the disease, but many people with it experience the following signs:

  • Bone tenderness or pain
  • Chills or fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Small red spots on the skin
  • Severe and frequent infections
  • Recurrent nosebleeds
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Unexplained weight loss

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer causes more deaths in the United States than any other type of the disease. In its earliest stages, the disease rarely produces symptoms, but the following symptoms may indicate more advanced stages of disease:

  • Headache
  • A cough that does not improve
  • Bone pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness and wheezing
  • Chest pain


This type of skin cancer begins in the cells that give the skin its color. Although the exact cause is still unknown, researchers believe melanoma may be caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. It is the deadliest type of skin cancer.

This type of cancer can develop anywhere on the skin but most commonly appears on the legs, arms, face and back. Initial signs of the disease include the development of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. Cancerous moles may be large, asymmetrically shaped, unevenly colored and surrounded by an irregular, scalloped border.