HEALTH TALK: Cancer symptoms men ignore

Dr. Victor Emanuel MD
Dr. Victor Emanuel MD

Many men are notorious foot-draggers, especially when it comes to scheduling doctor visits. This is unfortunate.

Routine preventive care can find cancer in men and other disease in the early stages, when there are more treatment options and better chances for a cure. Some men would never go to the doctor except for the women in their life; women are often the ones who push men to get screened for cancer.

Men can benefit greatly by being alert to certain cancer symptoms that indicate a trip to the doctor’s office sooner rather than later. Some of these cancer symptoms in men are specific. They involve certain body parts and may even point directly to the possibility of cancer.

Other symptoms are more vague. For example, pain that affects many body parts could have dozens of explanations and may not be cancer. But that doesn’t mean you can rule out cancer without seeing a doctor.


Most men have never considered the possibility of having breast cancer. It’s not common, but it is possible. Any new mass in the breast area of a man needs to be checked out by a physician.

In addition, several other worrisome signs involving the breast that men, as well as women, should take note of include;
• Skin dimpling or puckering
• Nipple retraction
• Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
• Nipple discharge
When you see the doctor, he will take information and do an examination. Then, depending on the findings, a mammogram, biopsy or other test may be needed.


If you’ve got an unexplained fever, it may indicate cancer. It could also be a sign of pneumonia or some other illness that needs treatment.

Most cancers will cause fever at some point. Often, fever occurs after the cancer has spread from its original site and invaded another body part. But it can also be caused by blood cancers such as lymphoma or leukemia. It’s best not to ignore a fever that can’t be explained. Check with your doctor to find out what might be causing it and if anything needs to be done.


Unexpected weight loss is a concern. Most of us don’t lose weight easily. You may be expected to lose some weight from a stepped up exercise program or eating less because of a busy schedule. If a man loses more than 10% of his body weight in a short period of time such as a matter of weeks, it’s time for a doctor visit.

Doc will do a general examination; ask questions about diet and exercise and about the symptoms. Based on that information, doctor will decide what other tests are needed.


Fatigue is a vague symptom that could point to cancer in men. But a number of other problems could cause it as well. Like fever, fatigue can set in after the cancer has grown. But it may also happen early in cancers such as leukemia or with some colon or stomach cancers.

If you often feel extremely tired and it doesn’t get better with rest, check with the doc. He or she will evaluate it along with any other symptoms in order to determine what’s causing it and what can be done.


Coughs are expected, of course, with colds, the flu, and allergies. They are also sometimes a side effect of a medication. But a very prolonged cough, lasting more than three or four weeks, should not be ignored. That kind of cough warrants a doctor visit. It could be a symptom of cancer, or it could indicate some other problem such as chronic bronchitis or acid reflux.

Of course, doc will question you, examine your throat, check your lungs, and especially if you are a smoker, maybe order X-rays. Once the reason for the cough is found, you and doctor will work out a treatment plan.


Many men, especially as they get older think “heart attack” when they get bad indigestion, even if they’ve just eaten and drunk their way through a day’s viewing of cricket when the Windies are winning. But persistent indigestion could point to cancer in the esophagus, throat, or stomach and should be reported to your doctor. Doctor will do the usual, decide what tests are necessary and treat according to the results.


Whenever you see blood coming from a body part where you’ve never seen it before, see a doctor. If you start coughing or spitting up blood, have blood in the bowel, or blood in the urine, it’s time for a doctor visit.

It’s a mistake to assume blood in the stool is simply from a hemorrhoid. It could be colon cancer!

Doc will ask you questions about your symptoms. He or she may also order tests such as a colonoscopy to see up into your bowels, to identify any signs of cancer or pre-cancer or to identify what else might be causing the bleeding.

See you next week.


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  1. Lovely
    March 3, 2014

    Men are so macho and when the are sick, they worse than babies. I can tell you I had a husband who I would force to go to the Dr. One day he went to the bathroom and he had loose stools, stomach cramps and blood in the stool. He said he is Ok. I did not know nothing about colon cancer, but I said I going to call the Dr. to have an emergency check up, because blood in stool is not a good sigh.

    He went to have a few test and low and behold he had colon cancer. But fortunately, he did not have to get radiation and chemotherapy, cause they got it on time and it was localize, which means it did not spread. So right not a big chunk of his colon Is gone, but he has to eat a lot of high fibered foods, low fat and watch his intake of greasy foods etc. But if I did not do that call, it would be worse. The cut his stomach like a fish. Take heed, you stubborn men.

  2. %
    February 28, 2014


  3. Anonymous
    February 28, 2014

    Very informative, thanks

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