Early Detection of Cancer: how to spot cancer early

Why is it important to act on potential signs or symptoms of cancer? 

Diagnosing and treating cancer early, before it has grown bigger or spread to other parts of the body, means that patients are more likely to survive cancer.

If the population, including high risk groups, are aware of the possible signs and symptoms of cancer, and empowered to contact their GP as soon as they notice any of these signs or symptoms, this can facilitate the early diagnosis of cancer.

Potential Early Signs & Symptoms

Cancer can cause changes to how your body normally looks, works or feels. It's important to be aware of possible signs or symptoms of cancer, these include:

  • a new lump or bump
  • a lump or bump changing in appearance or size
  • unexplained bleeding from any part of the body
  • unexplained bruising
  • unexplained or persistent pain
  • a change to your usual bowel or bladder habits  
  • a new or changing cough
  • changes on your skin
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving your tongue
  • unexplained weight loss or weight loss without trying
  • unexplained tiredness
  • unexplained night sweats

If you notice anything that is unusual for you or someone you know, it's important to contact your GP for advice without delay.

NCCP Early Diagnosis of Symptomatic Cancer Plan

The HSE National Cancer Control Programme launched the first NCCP Early Diagnosis of Symptomatic Cancer Plan 2022-2025 which  aims to provide a strategic, comprehensive approach to increasing the number of symptomatic cancers that are diagnosed early (stages I and II) in Ireland. Download your copy by clicking on the link below. 

 Implementation Reports 

NCCP Early Diagnosis of Symptomatic Cancer Plan Implementation Report 2022-2023 (PDF, 818.3KB, 11 pages)

Below are resources available for your use and contact details for further information or support. 

 Published Research


If you wish to order printed resources please visit www.healthpromotion.ie and choose 'cancer' on the drop down menu. 

Early Detection of Cancer Posters and Leaflets

Early Detection of Cancer Factsheets


Lung Cancer resources for community and healthcare professionals 


Contact prevention@cancercontrol.ie for further information.