If you know what’s normal for your body, you’ll be more likely to spot any changes or symptoms that may need to be looked at by a doctor.


  • Know what’s normal for you.
  • Know how your body looks and feels.
  • Know what changes to look for.
  • Report any changes to your GP without delay.
  • Sometimes, noticing a small change can make a big difference to your health. In many cases, the problem may not be serious, but it’s important to see your GP if you have any concerns, however trivial you think they are.


Although it’s unlikely that changes in your body will be caused by something serious like cancer, they should be checked by your GP.

One person in three is diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life. Cancer usually affects older people, but it can occur at any age.

Detecting most cancers early means that treatment is more likely to be successful. The first symptom of cancer could be:

  • a lump anywhere on your body
  • changes to a mole
  • a cough that won’t go away
  • abnormal bleeding
  • a change in bowel movements
  • unexplained weight loss

These symptoms are usually the sign of a less serious problem, but it’s always important to have them checked by a GP so that you can be treated, whatever the cause.

Checking your skin

You need to know what’s normal for your skin, particularly if you’re regularly exposed to the sun or you have used sunbeds. Using a sunbed is not safe. Sunbeds can be harmful to skin and can cause changes that can lead to skin cancer.

If you notice any changes to a mole, such as changes in shape, size or colour, see your GP. Ask a friend or partner to check the areas you can’t see, such as your back and shoulders. Skin cancers can appear as:

  • a spot or sore that does not heal within four weeks
  • a spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed after four weeks
  • areas where the skin has broken down or turned into an ulcer with no obvious cause and does not heal for four weeks

If any area of your skin is damaged and it doesn’t heal, you need to see your GP. Try not to worry as many conditions can affect your skin and are not cancerous. It’s still important to get it checked.