Men’s Health – Potential Cancer Symptoms


Knowing early warning signs for cancer, noticing changes in your body, and communicating openly with your health care provider can save your life.  Common symptoms associated with cancer are outlined below. If any of the symptoms on the list apply to you, don’t wait, make an appointment with your doctor and thoroughly discuss your situation.


Changes in Urination – As men age, many notice changes in their urinary habits (like the need to pee more frequently, leaking, urgency, or trouble starting to pee), which can be symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland or prostate cancer. Speak with your healthcare provider if you experience changes in urination. Your provider will examine your prostate and recommend a PSA blood test to check for prostate cancer.


Changes in Your Testicles – If you notice a lump, heaviness, or any changes in your testicles, see your healthcare provider. Testicular cancer can grow quickly. Your provider will check for testicular cancer with a physical exam, blood tests, and an ultrasound of your scrotum.


Blood in Your Pee or Stool – Contact your healthcare provider if you have any type of unusual bleeding. Blood in the pee or stool can be one of the first signs of bladder, kidney, or colon cancer, (although you are more likely to have a problem that’s not cancer, like hemorrhoids or a urinary tract infection.)


Skin Changes – A change in the size, shape, or color of a mole or other spot on your skin can be a sign of skin cancer. Make an appointment with a dermatologist to have a full body skin examination. If a spot on your skin looks like cancer, your provider will need to do a biopsy to examine the tissue. Skin cancer can travel quickly, but it responds well to early intervention.


Changes in Lymph Nodes – Lymph nodes are bean-shaped glands that can be found in your neck, armpits, groin, and throughout the body. Swollen lymph nodes can be a sign of cancer. Have your healthcare provider check any swelling that doesn’t shrink within two to four weeks.


Difficulty Swallowing – If you have ongoing difficulty swallowing and you’re also losing weight or vomiting, your healthcare provider might want to check you for throat or stomach cancer. Diagnostic tests will include a throat examination and barium X-ray.


Heartburn – Notify your healthcare provider if you have ongoing heartburn that is not related to your diet, drinking habits, or stress level. Persistent heartburn can be a sign of stomach or throat cancer.


Mouth Changes – Tobacco use increases your risk of developing mouth cancer. If you notice white or red patches inside your mouth or on your lips, talk with your health care provider about tests and treatment.


Unexplained Weight Loss – Losing ten pounds without trying to do so is abnormal. Although unexpected weight loss is attributable to several health conditions, it can be a sign of pancreatic, stomach, or lung cancer. Diagnostic tests include blood tests and a CT or PET scan.


Fever – An unexplainable fever that does not go away can be a symptom of leukemia or a blood cancer. Schedule a physical exam with your health care provider.


Breast Changes – 1% of breast cancer occurs in men. If you notice a breast lump, don’t wait. Speak with your healthcare provider about the possibility of breast cancer.


Fatigue – Many types of cancer cause a bone-deep tiredness that is not relieved by sleep. It’s different than the exhaustion you feel after a hectic week or a lot of activity. Talk with your healthcare provider if fatigue is affecting your daily life.


Cough – Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have an ongoing cough that does not go away after three to four weeks. If you are short of breath or coughing up blood, don’t delay a visit to your provider, especially if you smoke. A cough is the most common sign of lung cancer. Your provider will test mucus from your lungs to see if you have an infection and recommend a chest X-ray.


Pain – Ongoing pain can be the sign of many types of metastatic cancer.