10 Cancer Symptoms Men Shouldn’t Ignore. By Brittany Cordeiro
back pain. Indigestion. Frequent urination. You may assume these are
minor health issues that don’t need a doctor visit. But think again.
Cancer symptoms are often vague. In fact, prostate cancer -- the most
common cancer in men -- has some of the least obvious symptoms.
“Men shouldn’t ignore their health,” says Therese Bevers, M.D.,
medical director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center. “It’s vital
to stay informed, pay attention to changes in your body and report
unusual symptoms to your doctor right away.”
Knowing what symptoms to look for can help your doctor find cancer early when it’s most treatable.
Bevers shares some of the most common cancer symptoms in men.
- Abnormal lump. Have you recently felt a mass or
lump right below your skin? This may be a sign of cancer. Lumps
normally show up in the breast, testicles, lymph nodes and soft tissues,
like tendons and ligaments. Here’s what to do: Report it to your doctor
immediately, especially if you just found it, or it has grown in size.
- Changes in your testicles. Have you noticed changes
in the size of your testicles, like one or both have gotten bigger?
Maybe you’ve found a lump, or your testicles feel swollen or extra
heavy. Any of these signs should send you straight to your doctor.
Testicular cancer is most common in young and middle-aged men.
- Changes in your restroom habits. Suddenly need to
use the restroom all the time? Or have pain when you go? This may be a
sign of bladder or prostate cancer. Other signs to look out for are
blood in your urine or stool. Changes in your bowel habits, like
constipation or diarrhea that won’t go away, matter too.
- Changes in your skin. If you work long hours
outside or have a history of blistering sun burns, check your skin more
closely. What you think are signs of hard work might actually be skin
cancer. Look for unusual bleeding, scaling or sores that do not heal.
Other signs include warts as well as moles and freckles that change in
color, size or shape. Bottom line: If you’ve got a strange spot on your
skin, call your dermatologist.
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing. A prolonged
painful burning sensation in your throat or chest shouldn’t be ignored –
even if you suspect it’s from eating spicy food. Don’t think that
regular indigestion or trouble swallowing is a normal part of aging
either. It can be a sign of esophageal, stomach or throat cancer.
- Persistent cough or hoarseness. Do you have a
nagging cough? If it lasts more than three weeks, it’s a sign that
something’s wrong. And whether you smoke or not, a cough that doesn’t go
away can be a sign of lung cancer. Persistent hoarseness, wheezing,
shortness of breath or coughing up blood are also signs to call your
doctor right away.
- Changes in your mouth. If you smoke, chew, dip or
spit tobacco, you need to pay close attention to changes inside your
mouth. White patches inside your mouth or white patches on your tongue
may be pre-cancers. Left untreated, these areas can turn into oral
cancer. Sores, unexplained bleeding, numbness or tenderness in the area
around your mouth – like your tongue, lips and cheeks – should tell you
that it’s time for a check-up.
- Unexplained weight loss. Are you dropping pounds
without changing your diet or exercise habits? Call your doctor – even
if you think they’re pounds you need to lose. Losing ten or more pounds
for no known reason can be a sign of pancreatic, stomach, esophageal or
- Constant fatigue. Are you too tired to play with
your kids? Or hang out with the guys after work? Are you constantly
tired no matter how much rest you get? Don’t brush it off. Constant
fatigue can be a sign of leukemia as well as some colon and stomach
- Persistent pain. Nagging back pain, a headache that
won’t go away, abdominal or stomach pains – your doctor needs to know.
“No pain, no gain” doesn’t apply to cancer. And, persistent pain, no
matter the location, can be the first sign that something’s wrong.
Remember, having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have
cancer. But if they’re persistent, you need to go in for a checkup.
“See your doctor and get your cancer risk assessed,” Bevers says. This
assessment can help you understand whether or not you’re more likely to
get cancer. That way you can make better choices to keep your body
healthy and cancer-free.