Symptoms of cancer in children and teenagers

Teenage boy

The symptoms of cancer in children depend on what part of the body is affected.

Symptoms include:

  • A lump or swelling
  • Looking pale
  • Feeling tired a lot
  • Pain
  • Night sweats or temperatures
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in eyesight
  • Feeling generally unwell for no reason
  • Limping

Symptoms by cancer type

  • Leukaemia: Feeling tired, looking pale, unusual bleeding (like nosebleeds or unexplained bruising) and repeated infections.
  • Brain tumour: Headaches, feeling sick or vomiting, seizures (fits), drowsiness and irritability.
  • Sarcoma: A lump, swelling or painful area.
  • Lymphoma: Painless lump or swelling, night sweats or weight loss .
  • Germ cell tumour: A lump.
  • Liver cancer: A lump or swelling in the tummy, weight loss, feeling sick (nausea) and getting sick (vomiting).
  • Neuroblastoma: Loss of appetite, tiredness and pain in the bones.
  • Retinoblastoma: A painful red eye, a squint or the affected eye may appear white in photographs.
  • Wilms’'s tumour: Swelling of the tummy, blood in the urine and weight loss.

Always get any unusual changes checked by a doctor…

If you have any worries at all about your child’s health it’s important to go to your GP as soon as possible. Be ready to give your doctor as much information as possible about your child’s symptoms: 

  • How the symptoms feel
  • When the symptoms happen
  • How long they have been going on for

Tell your doctor if you’re worried about cancer, so they can put your mind at rest. Read more about talking to doctors.

But try not to worry too much: All these symptoms can be caused by other conditions – and it’s very rare for children to get cancer. 

Can I get my child screened for cancer? 

Testing for cancer when you have no symptoms is called screening. There is no children´s cancer screening programme at present, however if you’re worried about cancer, talk to your doctor.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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