Cancer symptoms men should not overlook


It’s easy to overlook cancer symptoms since they might indicate a number of other conditions. But for men, who have higher rates of getting and dying from cancer than women, it’s important to identify the cause of any symptoms no matter how trivial they seem.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in two men will develop cancer in his lifetime. By getting recommended cancer screenings, paying attention to your body and reporting any unusual changes to a doctor, you’ll be in a better position to identify cancer (or any other condition) early.

While no single symptom positively indicates cancer, any unexplained physical change should be evaluated, including these common symptoms of cancer in men:

Changes in urination or bowel movements

There’s a lot to learn from what goes on in the bathroom. Changes in your stool, urine or restroom habits could signal colon, bladder or prostate cancer. Concerning changes include:

  • Blood in your urine or stool
  • Change in your urine stream
  • Constipation or diarrhea that doesn’t subside
  • Painful urination
  • Urinating more frequently

Abnormal lump in your breast or under your arm

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 100 cases of breast cancer occurs in a man. It can cause a mass or lump in your breast that feels like a hard knot or a thickening. A lump or swelling felt under your arm or near your collar bone can also indicate breast cancer that may have spread to the lymph nodes.

Changes in your testicles

A lump of any size in your testicles may be a sign of testicular cancer, which is most common in young and middle-aged men. But you should also take note if your testicles change in size or become swollen or feel heavy. Examine your testicles monthly to detect lumps and become familiar with their size, shape and weight so that any changes are noticeable.

Nagging cough or hoarseness

A persistent cough can be a sign of lung cancer. Get checked out if your cough lasts more than three weeks with no other cold symptoms. Other signs that something may be wrong include persistent hoarseness, wheezing, shortness of breath or coughing up blood.

Unexplained weight loss

Losing weight without changing your diet or exercise regimen is a cause for concern. Contact your doctor if you lose ten or more pounds without trying. It can be a sign of pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, lung or blood-related cancers.

Constant fatigue

If you feel tired no matter how much rest you get, and more fatigued now than you did six months ago, it might be cause for worry. Another indication of unusual fatigue is being too tired to do things you typically enjoy, like hanging out with friends or playing with your kids. Extreme and unexplained fatigue can be a sign of leukemia, colon cancer or stomach cancer.

Persistent pain

Seek a medical evaluation if you have pain that is new, gets worse, or doesn’t go away with proper rest and typical remedies. Pay special attention to:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain, a symptom of pancreatic cancer
  • Back pain, associated with spinal or colorectal cancer
  • Pelvic pain, symptomatic of testicular, prostate or colon cancer

Difficulty swallowing or constant indigestion

Regular indigestion and trouble swallowing are not normal parts of aging. A painful burning sensation in your chest or throat should be a concern, even after you’ve eaten spicy food. It may be a symptom of throat, stomach or esophageal cancer.

Strange skin spots

Men are more likely to die of melanoma than women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. To make sure you catch any suspicious skin cancer symptoms early, examine your skin regularly. Get checked out by a doctor if you have sores that won’t heal or warts, moles or freckles that change in color, size or shape.

If you notice unusual changes to your body or want to learn more about cancer screening recommendations, reach out to your primary care provider.