This is a topic I started on September 29, 2010 (check the archives). On that occasion, I discussed seven cancer symptoms. Here are eight more. Here goes.
CANCER SYMPTOM IN MEN NO. 8: PAIN
As they age, people often complain of more aches and pains. But pain, as vague as it may be, can be an early symptom of some cancers although most pain complaints are not from cancer.
Any pain that persists should be checked out by your doctor. Doc can take a careful history, get more details, and then decide whether further testing is necessary, and if so what kind. If it’s not cancer, you will still benefit from the office visit, because doc can work with you to find out what’s causing the pain and help you know what to do about it.
CANCER SYMPTOM IN MEN NO. 9: CHANGES IN THE TESTICLES
Testicular cancer occurs most often in men aged 20 to 39. It’s recommended that men get a testicular exam by a doctor as part of a routine cancer related check-up. In fact, some suggest a monthly self-exam.
Being aware of troublesome testicular symptoms between exams is wise. Any change in the size of the testicles, such as a growth or shrinkage, should be a concern. Also, swelling or a lump should not be ignored. Nor should a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. Some testicular cancers occur very quickly. So early detection is especially crucial. If you feel a hard lump of coal in your testicle, get it checked right away.
Doc will do a testicular exam and an overall assessment of your health. If cancer is suspected blood tests may be ordered. You may undergo an ultrasound of your scrotum. Doc may also decide to do a biopsy, taking a tiny sample of testicular tissue to examine it for cancer.
CANCER SYMPTOM IN MEN NO. 10: CHANGES IN THE LYMPH NODES
If you notice a lump or swelling in the lymph nodes (glands) under your armpit or in your neck – or anywhere else – it could be a reason for concern. If you have a lymph node that gets progressively larger, and it’s been longer than a month, see a doctor.
You will be examined, of course, and doc will figure out any associated issues that could explain the lymph node enlargement, such as infection. If there is no infection, a biopsy will usually be done.
CANCER SYMPTOM IN MEN NO. 11: GNAWING ABDOMINAL PAIN AND DEPRESSION
Anyone who gets a pain the abdomen (stomach) and is feeling depressed needs a checkup. Experts have found a link between depression and pancreatic cancer. Other symptoms can include jaundice or a change in the stool color, often a gray color.
In addition to a careful exam and history, doc may want to order tests such as a chest X-Ray, CT Scan, MRI and possibly others.
CANCER SYMPTOM IN MEN NO. 12: DIFFICULTY SWALLOWING
Some men may report trouble swallowing but then learn to live with it. Over time, they change their diet to a more liquid diet. They start to drink more soup. But swallowing difficulties could be a sign of a GI cancer, such as cancer of the esophagus.
Let your doc know it you’re having trouble swallowing. Along with a careful history, doc may possibly order a chest X-Ray. You may also be sent to a certain specialist for further evaluation. This would be a gastroenterologist.
CANCER SYMPTOM IN MEN NO. 13: CHANGES IN THE SKIN
You should be alert to not only changes in nodes – a well-known sign of potential skin cancer – but also changes in skin pigmentation.
Suddenly developing bleeding on your skin or excessive scaling are reasons to check with the doc. It’s difficult to say how long is too long to observe skin changes, but you should not wait longer than several weeks.
A history and examination and biopsy are what are usually done to rule out cancer.
CANCER SYMPTOM IN MEN NO. 14: MOUTH CHANGES
If you smoke, or chew, tobacco, you need to be especially alert for any white patches inside your mouth or white spots on your tongue. These changes may indicate leukoplakia, a precancerous area that can occur with ongoing irritation. The condition can progress to cancer of the mouth.
You should report the changes to doc or the dentist. Either of them will do the usual.
CANCER SYMPTOM IN MEN NO. 15: URINARY PROBLEMS
As men age, urinary problems become more frequent. These include the urge to urinate more often, a sense of urgency, and a feeling of not completely emptying the bladder. Every man will develop these problems as he gets older. But if you notice it and it concerns you, you should seek attention. That’s especially true if the symptoms get worse.
Doc will do a digital rectal exam (DRS), which will tell him whether the prostate gland is enlarged. This often happens as a man ages. It’s typically caused by a noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. A blood test may also be ordered to check the level of prostate – specific antigen or PSA. This is a protein produced only by the prostate gland, and the test is used to help determine the possibility of prostate cancer. If the doc notices abnormalities in the prostate or if the PSA is higher than it should be, doc may refer you to a urologist (specialist dealing with these issues), and perhaps order an ultrasound scan or a biopsy.
See you next week.