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Symptoms of ulcerating tumours

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This page tells you about the symptoms of ulcerating cancers (fungating wounds).

An ulcerating tumour can start as a shiny, red lump on the skin. If the lump breaks down, it will look like a sore. If left untreated the wound will often get bigger, spreading into surrounding skin, or growing deeper into the skin and forming holes. The skin round it may look red and blistered. Pieces of dead skin (tissue) can sometimes fall off.

You may have other symptoms

  • A strong, unpleasant smell from the wound
  • Itching
  • Oozing from the wound – this may be pus or clear fluid
  • Pain at the site of the wound
  • Pain elsewhere in the body from the wound pressing on nerves
  • Bleeding – any clean tissue around the wound will bleed easily

There is advice and information on looking after and managing an ulcerating tumour in this section.

If you think you may have an ulcerating tumour, it is very important that you make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. Or you could see your practice nurse, nurse practitioner, or symptom control nurse. You may feel scared or embarrassed about going to your doctor or nurse. You may be frightened of what they might say the problem is. This is understandable but the sooner the wounds are diagnosed, the easier they are to control and the less effect they will have on your life. There is information about treating fungating tumours in this section.

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Updated: 15 July 2013