It’s a stereotype that all too often rings true: Men frequently ignore signs when something is wrong with their health. Many refuse to see their doctor for health issues, let alone talk about them with their spouse or closest friends.
Recognizing the common signs of cancer—and more importantly, seeing a doctor about them—can increase a man’s chances of detecting the disease early on. More treatment options are available when cancer is diagnosed in an early stage.
Here are five cancer symptoms men should never ignore:
- Rapid, unintentional weight loss: If a man loses 10 pounds or more in a month and he isn’t dieting or trying an aggressive exercise program, he needs to see a doctor. Although many of us would like to lose some weight, dramatic weight loss without trying in a short amount of time is nothing to ignore.
- Unexplained bleeding: Blood in a man’s urine may be an early sign of bladder cancer or a more advanced prostate cancer. Blood in the stool can be related to colorectal or anal cancer. Coughing up blood can be a sign of lung cancer.
- Lumps or bumps that increase in size and do not go away: When lymph nodes swell, they can appear as noticeable lumps. If they progressively grow it’s a concern because it may be a sign of non-Hodgkin lymphoma or Hodgkin lymphoma. Lumps or bumps can appear on the neck, underarms or groin.
- Fatigue: Daily stress, anxiety, depression and nearly any illness can cause fatigue, however it is also one of the most common symptoms of cancer. Anyone who constantly feels tired and lethargic, especially after considerable rest and sleep, should be evaluated by a doctor.
- Changes to the testicles or penis: Although rare, men can develop cancer of the testicles or penis. Check for the following: lumps or changes in the size of a testicle or the skin of the penis (e.g., color change, thickness of skin, rash), swelling, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum or a sore/growth on the penis.
Keep in mind, these symptoms can be caused by medical conditions or diseases other than cancer. Men who experience these or other symptoms should see their doctor for an examination and diagnostic testing.
One simple way for men to monitor their health is to keep a healthy weight. “Maintaining a healthy body weight and staying active will not only reduce a man’s risk for many diseases, but also allow him to be more in touch with his body and able to detect changes or problems more quickly,” says Dr. Sean Cavanaugh, a radiation oncologist at our hospital near Atlanta.
Learn more about cancer symptoms men should not ignore.
Learn how men can lower their risk of cancer.