According to data provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), men are more likely to die from cancer than women in the US. This may be in part due to the fact that some may not notice the earlier symptoms of cancer. They may also attribute them to other conditions and not seek treatment as early as they should. Recognizing these symptoms and seeking medical treatment sooner may significantly improve the odds of diagnosing and treating the cancer which may lead to overall improved survival rates.
Let’s break down a few of these early warning signals to know what to watch for.
Any changes in urinating patterns should be discussed with you doctor. However, there are a few specific symptoms that should not be ignored. These include:
- Blood in urine
- Painful or difficulty urinating
- Weak or broken urine stream
- Loss of bladder control
- A burning sensation during urination
While these symptoms may indicate other conditions, they have also been linked to bladder cancer and prostate cancer. It may be helpful to keep a notebook of urination habits and changes to be sure to discuss all changes with your healthcare provider.
Changes in the Testicles
Testicular cancer is considered rare according to the National Cancer Institute. It is most commonly diagnosed in men 20-34 years of age. Because the symptoms are usually minor and not noticeable during the early stages, any noticeable changes should be reported to your doctor. Typically, the first noticeable sign of testicular cancer is a lump on one of the testicles. A few other symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the scrotum
- Pain or numbness of the scrotum
- Pain in one or both of the testicles
- Dull aching in the groin region
- Changes in firmness or size of one or both of the testicles
As with urination changes, not all changes to the testicles indicate cancer. However, you should always speak to your doctor about changes with your body, as they may indicate other treatable conditions as well.
Bowel Habit Changes
Occasional and short-term changes in bowel habits happen often and are not typically a cause for concern. However, if you experience long-term bowel changes, it is time to talk to your doctor. Along with conditions such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease – these symptoms may also indicate cancers including prostate, colorectal and bladder cancers.
Symptoms such as itching, pain, rectal bleeding and bloody stools should be noted and discussed with your doctor. Along with bloody stools, persistent or severe constipation and diarrhea should also be discussed with our doctor.
This may be another great time to keep a journal of bowel habits and severity of the symptoms in order to discuss with your doctor. Along with changes in bowel habits, persistent stomach pain that recurs with or without nausea is also worth discussing with your doctor.
While unintentional weight loss may be a symptom of many conditions, it should not be ignored and should be discussed with your doctor. Unintentional weight loss means weight loss with no changes to diet or activity levels. There is no clear definition of how much weight loss is too much, but most in the medical community agree that if you lose more than 5 percent of your weight in less than one year, it is time for medical evaluation.
Sores in the Mouth or on Skin
Changes in your mouth should be monitored by your doctor or dentist. Some signs to look out for include:
- Patches on the tongue or mouth that may be red or white
- Swelling that will not go away
- Mouth ulcers or sores that will not heal
Early signs of skin cancer may look similar to many other skin conditions. This is why it is important to have regular check-ups with your doctor or a dermatologist. Some skin cancers present as hard red bumps or patches that have a hard, dry or scaly top.
There are many chronic conditions, including cancer, that may cause this constant feeling of lack of energy and tiredness. In cancers, this may occur when the production of red blood cells is disrupted. These cells are responsible for the transporting of oxygen throughout the body. When this system is disrupted by cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, extreme fatigue may be a symptom. Fatigue may also occur in cancer patients when tumors compete with the body for nutrients.
Fatigue from medical conditions such as cancer will not improve with sleep. If you are experiencing sudden, unexplained or persistent fatigue, it is time to speak with your doctor.
In addition to overall fatigue, dull aching pain in the bones and joints should also be discussed with your doctor.
Changes in Breast Tissue
While breast cancer in males is rare, it is often overlooked by the patient or misdiagnosed in the early stages. Because of these reasons, it is often more advanced when diagnosed than for women. Any changes in the breast tissue should be discussed with your doctor. Some of the early symptoms may include:
- Lumps or swelling
- Scaling or redness
- Dimples in the skin
- Inverted nipple
A persistent cough that worsens over time or does not go away should be discussed with your doctor. Along with several other conditions, it may indicate certain types of cancers including lung cancer. Other symptoms may include:
- Blood in cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
In addition to monitoring bodily changes and symptoms, taking part of cancer screenings as recommended by your doctor, may be helpful in detecting cancer early. These screenings may include skin cancer checks and prostate exams, among others.
While men may have a higher risk of dying from cancer than women, staying vigilant and aware of your body changes may help your doctors diagnose medical conditions, including cancer, sooner leading to an increased chance of a positive outcome.