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Symptoms of ulcerating tumours

Read about the symptoms of ulcerating cancers (fungating wounds).

It can be distressing to read about the symptoms of ulcerating tumours. But the sooner an ulcerating tumour is diagnosed, the sooner you can get support. 

What it might look like

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.

Other symptoms

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 (including skin around the wound)

How you might feel

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.

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.
Last reviewed: 
19 Oct 2017
  • Fungating Wounds - Multidimensional Challenge in Palliative care
    M Thomas (and others)
    Breast Care, 2011. 6: 21-24

  • Symptom Management in Advanced Cancer (4th edition)
    R Twycross, A Wilcock and S Toller 
    Radcliffe Medical Press Ltd, 2009

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