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Symptoms of ulcerating tumours

These are 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. The wound will often get bigger if it isn't treated - it can spread into surrounding skin or grow deeper into the skin and form holes.

The skin round the wound may look red and blistered. Pieces of dead skin (tissue) can sometimes fall off.

You might have other symptoms, such as:

  • a strong, unpleasant smell from the wound
  • itching
  • oozing from the wound – this may be pus or clear fluid
  • pain where the wound is
  • pain elsewhere in the body from the wound pressing on nerves
  • bleeding – any clean skin around the wound will bleed easily

What to do

See your doctor as soon as possible if you think you might have an ulcerating tumour. Or you could see your practice nurse, nurse practitioner or symptom control nurse.

You might feel scared or embarrassed about going to your doctor or nurse. You could be frightened of what they might say the problem is.

This is understandable.But the sooner the wound is diagnosed, the easier it is to control and the less effect it will have on your life

Last reviewed: 
29 Jan 2015
  • Fungating wounds - Multidimensional challenge in palliative care
    Breast Care 2011;6:21-24. PMID 21547022

  • Symptom management in advanced cancer (4th edition)
    Twycross R, Wilcock A and Toller S
    Radcliffe Medical Press Ltd, 2009

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