Dad shocked to discover 'bruise' was sign of cancer – here are the lesser-known signs and symptoms

·4-min read
The 'bruise' on John Haywood's ankle turned out to be cancer.  (John Haywood / SWNS)
The 'bruise' on John Haywood's ankle turned out to be cancer. (John Haywood / SWNS)

A dad who brushed off a small bruise on his ankle was devastated to learn it was actually a sign of cancer.

John Haywood, 46, spotted the bruise last summer but assumed he had accidentally bumped or scraped his leg.

Weeks later, however, he mentioned the blemish to his dermatologist in passing.

Following an examination, the police officer was shocked to discover he actually had sarcoma – a rare type of cancer which can affect any part of the body.

It appears the ‘bruise’ that had appeared on Haywood’s ankle a few months earlier was actually the first visible sign something was seriously wrong.

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The dad-of-one, who lives in Bury with wife Claire O’Rourke, 44, and their eight-year-old daughter, was dealt a devastating double blow just one month later when further tests revealed a lymphoma, another type of cancer completely unrelated to the sarcoma.

John Haywood in hospital for treatment. (John Haywood / SWNS)
John Haywood in hospital for treatment. (John Haywood / SWNS)

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According to Haywood, the bruise on his ankle - which he had passed off as being the result of a bump or scrape - was about the size of a 50p coin.

He said: “It was quite innocuous.

“It wasn't sore or raised or itchy, it just looked like a bruise or maybe a burst capillary.”

The real reason for the mark appearing was only uncovered after a dermatologist arranged for him to have a punch biopsy, which involves a skin sample being taken for testing.

Further tests followed, which revealed John was also suffering from a lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects part of the immune system.

Haywood began treatment for the sarcoma on his ankle in December 2019.

He then had two surgeries on his leg in an attempt to have it removed, but unfortunately neither surgery was successful and he will now have to undertake a five week course of radiotherapy, beginning on Monday July 27.

John Haywood in hospital for treatment. (John Haywood / SWNS)
John Haywood in hospital for treatment. (John Haywood / SWNS)

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The dad also underwent radiotherapy for the lymphoma, which began in March, and last month he received the news that cancer had been successfully treated.

Although Haywood still has a way to go with his treatment and the prognosis of his sarcoma remains unclear, he is maintaining a positive attitude.

“I know the road ahead is a difficult one but I'm maintaining a good, while also realistic, attitude about it,” he said.

Unusual signs of cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, some possible signs of cancer – lumps, for example – are better known than others.

But there are a whole host of less well-known potential cancer symptoms we should also be aware of.


As Cancer Research points out, though it isn’t unusual to feel out of breath every now and then, if you notice you’re feeling breathless more than usual or for a lot of the time it is worth mentioning to your doctor.

Very heavy night sweats

Though we would generally associate sweating at night with an infection, fever or the menopause, Cancer Research UK says very heavy, “drenching night sweats” can also be a sign of cancer and should be checked out by a doctor.

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There are some lesser-known signs of cancer it is worth being aware of. (Getty Images)
There are some lesser-known signs of cancer it is worth being aware of. (Getty Images)

A hoarse or croaky voice

While it is more likely having a croaky voice or feeling hoarse is a side effect of a common cold, a persistently croaky voice that hasn’t gone away on its own should be checked out.

Persistent heartburn or indigestion

Sure, heartburn and indigestion are common after a large or spicy meal - but if you find you are consistently suffering, or it feels particularly painful, you should see your doctor.

Mouth ulcer that won’t heal

Mouth ulcers can be a common occurrence, particularly if you’re feeling a little run down.

However, an ulcer that hasn’t healed after three weeks warrants further investigation.

“The lining of the mouth renews itself every two weeks or so, which is why ulcers usually heal within this time,” Cancer Research UK explains.

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Difficulty swallowing

Finding it hard to swallow can be linked to certain medical conditions, but if you are having difficulty swallowing and the problem doesn’t go away, you should mention this to your doctor.

Anything that isn’t normal for you

“If you spot anything that isn’t normal for you, whether it’s on this list or not, get it checked out,” the Cancer Research UK site adds.

For the full list of lesser-known symptoms of cancer visit Cancer Research UK.

Haywood has been sharing his journey on his Twitter account and his wife has been doing a number of running challenges to raise money for Lymphoma Action, the UK’s only charity dedicated to lymphoma.

Additional reporting SWNS.

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