You may exercise and eat well on most days, but if you’re like most men, regular visits to the doctor’s office are probably at the least of your priorities. That can be a problem if it means you ignore the early signs of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, men are more likely to die from cancer than women in the United States.
Since it’s easy to confuse cancer symptoms for other ailments, a person may not be able to get screened and treated sooner. From urination difficulties to testicular changes, recognizing the warning signs of a deadly disease can improve your outlook and possibly, save your life.
See a doctor if you notice blood in your semen or urine, or if you experience consistent pain when urinating. These may indicate bladder or prostate cancer. Statistics from the American Cancer Society reveals that one in nine men in the US will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Being one of the leading forms of cancer in males, it’s important to watch out for these other symptoms:
- a weak urine stream
- loss of bowel or bladder control
- erectile dysfunction
- a burning sensation when urinating
Skin And Mouth Sores
Some types of skin cancer may look like a simple sore. In the early stages, the deadly disease can present as firm red bumps that develop a dry, scaly crown or bleed. Meanwhile, the first signs of oral cancer may be red lesions or open sores in the mouth.
A condition called leukoplakia may develop in some people. This is characterized by grey or white patches inside the mouth and the tongue. If not treated, leukoplakia can become oral cancer. Tobacco use remains to be the most common reason for mouth sores, leukoplakia, and oral cancer.
Unintentional Weight Loss
If you haven’t changed your exercise habits or exercise and you notice your pants fitting a little loser, it could mean that stress or a thyroid problem is taking a toll. However, losing more than 10 pounds without an effort to lose weight is not normal. While sudden weight loss may be due to various factors, it’s one of the common signs of cancer of the stomach, pancreas, and lungs. Your physician can investigate your situation with blood tests and body imaging tools like a CT or PET scan.
In most cases, improving your stress levels, drinking habits, and diet can take care of your heartburn. If these changes don’t help, consult your doctor. Heartburn that gets worse or doesn’t go away could mean throat or stomach cancer. This symptom can also lead to a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, which starts when stomach acid damages the lining of the esophagus. Although rare, Barrett’s can increase your chance of developing throat cancer.
Coughing is not exclusive to people with allergies or cold or those who smoke. Unusual coughing that worsens over time is an early sign of lung cancer. In men, coughing accompanied by bloody mucus is a telltale sign of lung cancer. Other related symptoms that can indicate a serious problem include:
- excessive mucus production
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
If your persistent coughing comes with no obvious cause, such as a stuffy nose or fever, it’s probably not due to an infection or virus. Be sure to visit your doctor to have this checked.
A number of chronic illnesses and medical conditions may cause fatigue or lack of energy. Excessive tiredness is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong with it. Some cancers, such as lymphoma and leukemia, can disrupt the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body.
When there’s less oxygen circulating the body, the person may experience fatigue. Malignant cells also compete with healthy cells for essential nutrients. Uncontrolled, tumors can grow and cause tiredness that doesn’t improve with sleep. Speak to a physician if your consistent lack of energy gets in the way of you living your daily life.
Severe Bowel Problems
The occasional bowel problem can happen to everyone and it usually can be remedied with the right medication. Long-term bowel changes, on the other hand, can be a sign of some digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. They may also be a sign of either color or rectal cancer. Collectively, these two diseases are called colorectal cancers.
Frequent and severe constipation and diarrhea, particularly if they come on suddenly, may indicate these serious conditions. These issues may also occur with persistent gas and abdominal pain. See a doctor for these symptoms, especially if your stools contain blood or you experience rectal bleeding.
Lumps In The Breast
Although not as often as in women, breast cancer can also happen to men. Be on guard and check for suspicious lumps in your breast area. These lumps are the earliest detectable symptom of male breast cancer. Get screened immediately if you notice one. Genes can play a role in the development of this condition. High estrogen levels and exposure to radiation are also common risk factors. Men in their 60s should be most mindful of breast lumps.
Prostate and lung cancer can spread to the bones, which happens in the more advanced stages of the disease. The dull, aching pain may come and go initially before becoming constant. As your bones weaken, you become more susceptible to fractures.
Testicular cancer is a rare disorder that doctors most commonly in men ages 20 to 34 years, according to the NCI. Symptoms are not always apparent in its early stages, and the first noticeable signs is often a lump on a testicle. Be on the lookout for these changes:
- swelling of the scrotum
- pain in one or both testicles
- a dull ache in the groin
- numbness or pain of the scrotum
- a difference in the size or firmness of a testicle
Viral and bacterial infections can also cause testicular changes, such as pain and swelling. However, it still pays to get a checkup if you notice that something doesn’t feel normal with this area.
Many cancers are hard to detect in the earliest stages, but some may exhibit visible differences. A prompt diagnosis is crucial for successful treatment. Know your body and be vigilant to look for unusual changes and persistent symptoms. Speak with your healthcare provider for possible cancer screening tests, especially if you are over 50 years old.