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Cancer Symptoms

Please note that what follows below is general information about the five most common cancers only. Click here for a full list of the cancers we treat at Hall-Perrine Cancer Center. If you have any questions or notice any of the symptoms below, see your physician.


Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women.1 One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.2

Early breast cancer may not present any noticeable symptoms; larger tumors may be recognized as a painless mass within the breast. Other, less common, symptoms may include thickening, swelling, distortion, tenderness, skin irritation, redness, scaliness, or nipple abnormalities. Breast pain is usually not an early symptom of cancer. If you're over 40, make sure you have a regular mammogram.


Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women.1

Colorectal cancer in its early stage does not usually produce any symptoms. However, a more advanced stage of the disease may cause rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss and cramping pain in the lower abdomen. Weakness and excessive fatigue may also be present. Be sure to have a regular colonoscopy after the age of 50.

Click here to watch a live colonoscopy and other educational colon cancer videos.

Colon cancer is also one of the most treatable cancers – but only if detected early! If you’re older than 50, don’t let embarrassment – or any other excuse – keep you from having this life-saving screening. Ask your doctor to refer you to Mercy Medical Center for a colon cancer screening today. Because the only really embarrassing thing is knowing it could save your life, and not doing anything about it. For more information, call (319) 398-6484.


Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer in both men and women.1

Symptoms include a persistent cough, mucous coughed up and streaked with blood, chest pain, voice changes, unexplained weight loss and regular bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis.

Melanoma (Skin)

Skin Cancer AwarenessMelanoma is responsible for most skin cancer deaths, although it accounts for less than 5% of all skin cancer cases.1

Melanoma may be identified by changes over a month or more in the size, shape, or color of a mole or a new growth on the skin. These tips can help prevent skin cancer:

  1. Cover up. Wear comfortable, dark, tightly woven fabrics (so you cannot see through them when held up to a light) that protects as much skin as possible against UV rays.
  2. Use sunscreen. A Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is recommended for both your skin and lips. Apply a generous amount; reapply every 2 hours or after swimming, sweating or towel drying. Check the expiration date, as most sunsceens are effective for 2-3 years. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
  3. Wear a hat. A hat with at least a 2-3-inch brim all around is ideal because it protects areas such as the ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp that are often exposed to intense sun.
  4. Wear sunglasses. UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves. Research has shown that long hours in the sun without protecting your eyes increase your chances of developing eye disease.
  5. Limit sun exposure. Limit your exposure to UV light by avoiding peak times usually between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  6. Avoid tanning beds. Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is not true. Tanning lamps give out UVA and usually UVB rays as well. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause long-term skin damage, and can contribute to skin cancer.

Also, be sure to know your moles and watch for any changes.


Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men.1

Early prostate cancer usually has no symptoms. However, men who are in a more advanced stage of prostate cancer may notice: changes in urination; a need to urinate frequently, especially at night; blood in the urine; or pain or burning when urinating.

Starting at age 50, men should talk to a doctor about testing. Men with a family history of prostate cancer before age 65 or who are African American should discuss testing with a doctor when they are 45.1

1 American Cancer Society
2 National Cancer Institute

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Courageous Stories

Suzanne Staab

Suzanne's Story

In keeping with tradition at Hall-Perrine, Suzanne Staab – with family, friends and Mercy staff by her side – rings a bell to signify the end of her cancer treatment. Watch her story.

To discuss treatments call (319) 365-HOPE (4673)