Cancer can affect anyone, regardless of gender. Unfortunately, men consistently underutilize preventive health care services compared to women. Indeed, men are 24 percent less likely to have visited a doctor in the past year and are statistically less willing to participate in cancer screenings. It is important to be proactive with your health, which includes acknowledging and monitoring any abnormalities that may present themselves. Here’s a list of cancer symptoms that men might ignore. In the majority of cases, these symptoms are the result of another issue besides cancer; however, they still warrant a trip to the doctor.
Unexplained weight change
With two in three adults in America being overweight or obese, weight loss is a common goal for many people. If you lose more than 10 pounds without a change in exercise or diet, however, it could be a sign of a serious condition. Unexplained weight loss is a potential symptom in patients with pancreatic, stomach or lung cancer, but it could also result from digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. Additionally, weight loss is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism and diabetes. With all the potential causes, it is important to consult your doctor to determine the proper treatment.
Continual or unusual fever
Usually, fever is caused by your body heating up to ward off an infection like influenza. Persistent or unusual fever, however, could be a sign of a more serious condition. Various autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, involve an abnormal immune response, which can lead to fever and other symptoms. Persistent fever could also be a sign of a hidden infection that requires treatment. Less often, fever may be an early symptom of leukemia or lymphoma. Talk with your doctor if you experience unusual or persistently high fever.
Unexplained changes in bowel habits
Bowel habits vary considerably between individuals, so it is difficult to pin down exactly what is normal for the general population. In some instances, changes in bowel habits could be the result of something as simple as a new diet. However, if you are experiencing bloody or black stool, persistent diarrhea, constipation or unexplained urges to go to the bathroom, you should talk to your doctor. In the worst case scenario, these symptoms could be a sign of colon cancer; however, more often than not, they are the result of an infection or a digestive condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Feeling full or bloated after eating very little
It is quite normal to feel full after eating a large meal — that feeling is your body’s way of telling you to stop eating. However, if you are consistently feeling bloated or full after eating only a small amount of food, it might be worth a trip to the doctor’s office. This sensation, known as early satiety, may be accompanied by nausea or vomiting and can lead to weight changes if it persists for more than a few days. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are often the cause of these symptoms. In some cases, though, these symptoms can point to a more serious condition, such as pancreatic or stomach cancer.
Women are often instructed to perform routine breast exams to check for lumps, as they may signal breast cancer. But these out-of-the-ordinary lumps can be just as dangerous for men. Lumps appear most commonly around the breast, testicles, lymph nodes and soft tissue. Since a lump on the testicle is often the first sign of testicular cancer, some doctors recommend that men perform regular testicular self-exams to detect abnormalities. Depending on the location, lumps may result from other conditions besides cancer, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lipoma. Talk to your doctor if you notice any unusual lumps, no matter where they are on your body.
Along with checking your body for lumps, it is important to keep an eye out for any changes on your skin. Certain skin abnormalities, including color changes, sores that don’t heal, excessive itchiness and unusual hair growth, can be signs of a health problem like skin cancer. While skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, various other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (neurological) or an allergic reaction (topical), also can cause symptoms like itchiness. You can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by taking steps to prevent skin damage, such as covering exposed skin and reporting abnormalities to your doctor.
If you experience a nagging cough that lasts more than two weeks, it is probably time to visit your doctor. Whether or not you smoke, a long-lasting cough — especially if it is not accompanied by other flu-like symptoms — may be a sign of lung cancer. Before you start worrying about cancer after every bout of coughing, though, it is important to remember that a variety of conditions can affect your respiratory system. Even rheumatoid arthritis, which primarily affects the joints, can lead to chronic coughing as a result of inflammation. Discuss any respiratory issues with your doctor to determine the proper treatment.
Fatigue is often the result of something benign like a poor night of sleep. However, constant fatigue is not a normal aspect of aging, and feeling tired for extended periods of time is certainly not an issue to ignore. Indeed, chronic fatigue can be an early symptom of a more serious health condition, including multiple sclerosis, depression, heart disease, leukemia and colon or stomach cancer. Whether fatigue is its own issue or the result of another condition, it can negatively affect your work and home life and warrants a visit to the doctor.
If you start having issues with bladder control, see your doctor, as those issues could be a sign of a more serious condition. In fact, one of the most common early signs of prostate cancer and bladder cancer is trouble controlling the flow of urine once you have to go. Various other conditions, ranging from moderate to severe, can lead to bladder dysfunction. For example, over 80 percent of multiple sclerosis patients experience some form of bladder dysfunction, including loss of control and incontinence. Bladder dysfunction is a troubling issue in and of itself, so don’t hesitate to report any symptoms to your doctor.
Nearly 70 percent of erectile dysfunction cases can be attributed to another condition, making it an important warning sign not to ignore. While erectile dysfunction can be a sign of advanced cancer or the result of cancer treatment, it is more commonly the result of neurological or cardiovascular issues such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease or diabetes. Considering that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America and the most common cause of erectile dysfunction, this is one symptom to report immediately.
Persistent or recurring pain
Many men might be hesitant to report persistent pain, thinking that they should just “weather the storm.” However, chronic pain is certainly not a symptom to downplay. Depending on the location, persistent pain may be a sign of certain cancers. For example, prostate cancer can lead to pain in the lower back and hips, while lung cancer can cause chest pain. More often than not, pain is caused by another condition, but some painful conditions — like heart disease or multiple sclerosis — can be serious. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor if any pain affects your quality of life.
The best time to catch cancer is early in its development before any physical symptoms appear. Unfortunately, research confirms the notion that men tend to procrastinate when it comes to their health care needs (especially when it comes to cancer screenings). If you are over the age of 50 or at a high risk for certain cancers due to genetic or environmental factors, experts recommend that you receive annual cancer screenings. Procrastination shouldn’t be an option when it comes to your health!
Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD
Source: Daily Rx