Aching pain in the back. Indigestion. Frequent urination. You may consider these to be minor health problems that do not need to be seen by a doctor. But think again.
Cancer symptoms are often vague. In fact, prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men – has the least symptoms.
“Men should not neglect their health,” says Dr. Teresa Bevers of the Anderson Cancer Center. It is very important to be alert, pay attention to any changes in your body, and report any unusual symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Knowing what symptoms to look for can help your doctor catch cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.
Bevers talks about the most common cancer symptoms in men.
An abnormal lump. Have you recently felt a lump or swelling under your skin? It can be a sign of cancer. Lumps are usually found in soft tissues such as breasts, testicles, lymph nodes, tendons, and ligaments. What to do: Tell your doctor right away, especially if you’ve just found out or are trying to get bigger.
Testicular changes. Have you noticed that one or both of your testicles are changing, as if they were enlarged? Your testicles may be swollen or very hard. Any of these symptoms should get you to a doctor right away. Testicular cancer is more common in young and middle-aged men.
Changes in your toileting habits. Do you suddenly have to use the toilet all the time? Or pain when walking? It can be a sign of bladder or prostate cancer. Other symptoms include blood in the urine or stool. Changes in bowel patterns such as constipation and diarrhea are also important.
Changes in your skin. If you often work outside or have been in the sun, check your skin. The symptom of hard work you think is skin cancer. Check for unusual bleeding, peeling, or non-healing wounds. Other symptoms include warts, as well as moles and freckles that change color, size, or shape. Bottom line: If you have strange spots on your skin, see a dermatologist.
Stomach upset or difficulty swallowing. Long-term burning in the throat and chest should not be ignored, even if it is suspected that it is related to eating spicy food. Don’t assume that constant digestion and swallowing is normal aging. It can be a sign of cancer of the esophagus, stomach or throat.
Constant coughing or shortness of breath. Are you sick with a cough? If it continues for more than three weeks, it is a sign that something is wrong. Whether you smoke or not, a persistent cough can be a sign of lung cancer. Persistent shortness of breath, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood are signs of immediate medical attention.
Oral changes. If you smoke, chew, smoke, spit, change your mouth carefully. White spots in the mouth or white spots on the tongue can be precancerous conditions. If left untreated, these areas can turn into oral cancer. Ulcers on the tongue, lips, or cheeks, unexplained bleeding, numbness, or pain around the mouth indicate that it’s time to get checked out.
Unexplained weight loss. Are you losing weight without changing your diet or exercise? Even if you think you need to lose a few pounds, talk to your doctor. Losing ten or more pounds for unknown reasons can be a sign of pancreatic, stomach, esophagus, or lung cancer.
Constant fatigue. Are you tired of playing with children? Or hanging out with the guys after work? Do you get tired no matter how much you rest? Don’t throw it away. Constant fatigue can be a symptom of leukemia, colon, and some stomach cancers.
Constant pain. Back pain, constant headaches, abdominal or stomach pain – your doctor should know about it. “No pain, no gain” does not apply to cancer. Also, persistent pain, regardless of location, can be the first sign that something is wrong.
Remember that having one or more of these symptoms does not mean you have cancer. But if they persist, you should get tested.
“See your doctor and assess your cancer risk,” says Bevers. This assessment can help you understand whether you are more likely to develop cancer. This way you can make the best choices to keep your body healthy and cancer free.