Memory Stockphoto/ShutterstockIf it’s consistently difficult to urinate, or there’s blood in your urine or semen, or if you experience unexplained erectile dysfunction, see your doctor; these could be symptoms of prostate cancer. “Unfortunately, there aren’t noticeable symptoms of prostate cancer until the aggressive stages,” says Moshe Shike, MD, gastroenterologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Shike says he frequently sees patients who ignore these symptoms for up to six months before they seek help, but the sooner you check out your symptoms, the better.
If you have the opposite problem, and you have to pee all the time, here's what that might mean.
Reader’s Digest is working with Stand Up to Cancer, an initiative that funds groundbreaking research projects to help bring new treatments to patients faster. Here’s how you can join the movement to help END CANCER in our lifetimes.
Monkey Business Images/ShutterstockJust as women should be familiar with how their breasts look and feel, men should pay attention to their testicles. If you notice changes in size (to one or both), if they feel swollen or extra heavy, or if you feel a lump, these symptoms could indicate testicular cancer, says Maurie Markman, MD, an oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Testicular cancer is most common in young and middle-aged men.
Noticeable skin changes
wavebreakmedia/ShutterstockMen over 50 are about twice as likely as women to develop and die from skin cancer; young men account for 40 percent of melanoma cases, but 60 percent of melanoma deaths, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Why? A study by the National Sun Protection Advisory Council found that men spend more time in the sun than women and are less likely to wear sunscreen; men also have less hair covering their scalp and ears, two areas where they tend to develop cancer. Also, traditionally men visit the doctor less often than women do, so their cancers may not be caught as early. It's easy to miss the early warning signs of skin cancer, says Rich Wender, MD, chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society. “Many people think freckles, moles, or a darker age spot is just like the others they’ve had,” he explains. If you notice a mole getting darker, larger, or becoming raised, get it checked. With melanoma, spots are often irregularly shaped (not round), significantly darker in color, or even two distinctly different colors within one spot, he says. “Melanoma is far less common than other skin cancers, but has the potential to be more deadly,” says Dr. Wender. “However, many melanomas have a long period where they’re not invasive and easy to cure, as long as they’re caught early.” Here are some essential facts about skin cancer that you need to know.
Sores or pain in your mouth
vchal/ShutterstockA cold sore that heals is probably nothing to worry about, nor is a toothache that goes away after a trip to the dentist. But if you notice sores that don’t heal, pain that sticks around, white or red patches on the gums or tongue, and any swelling or numbness of the jaw, it could be a sign of some mouth cancers. Men who smoke or use chewing tobacco have an increased risk of developing mouth cancer, says Dr. Markman. “More men smoke than women. Smokers and users of chewing tobacco need to be far more concerned with sores in their mouth that do not heal quickly, compared to non smokers,” he says. Trying to quit smoking? We've got over 20 different techniques to try.
Image Point Fr/ShutterstockA cough that lasts three weeks or more—without other symptoms, such as a cold or allergies—could be an early symptom of lung cancer. Leukemia can also lead to bronchitis-like symptoms. “If it’s different than your regular cough and if it persists, or you cough up a little blood, that’s significant,” says Dr. Markman. Some lung cancer patients report chest pain that extends up into the shoulder or down the arm.
Blood in your stool
Brian A Jackson/ShutterstockIt could be hemorrhoids or something benign—but it could also be a symptom of colon cancer. Routine screening typically starts at age 50, but cases are becoming more common in younger adults, which is why it’s important to see a doctor for any suspicious symptoms. “It’s easy to dismiss it as hemorrhoids or constipation, and if the problem comes and goes, people reassure themselves that nothing’s wrong, especially younger people,” says Dr. Wender. “But blood in a bowel movement is never normal, so get it checked out.”
Stomach pain or nausea
g stockstudio/ShutterstockEveryday digestive distress is rarely cancer—but you should see a doctor if you notice persistent stomach cramps or are starting to feel nauseous all the time. It could be something as simple as an ulcer, but it could also signal leukemia or esophageal, liver, pancreatic, or colorectal cancer. Here are some more potential symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Plus, here's an explanation for what seven different types of stomach pains mean.
Frequent fevers or infections
Mamuka Gotsiridze/ShutterstockIf you’re usually healthy but notice yourself getting sick or feverish more frequently, it could be an early sign of leukemia. This blood cancer triggers the body to produce abnormal white blood cells, which weakens the body’s infection-fighting abilities. Be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms that don’t go away.
g stockstudio/ShutterstockIf a sore throat is nothing serious, one of our natural home remedies should be all it takes to relieve it. However, a sore throat that persists for a few weeks and gets worse could be a symptom of throat or stomach cancer, as well as an early sign of lung cancer.
Icatnews/ShutterstockA random bruise is probably nothing to worry about (and here's the quickest way to get rid of it). However, if you start to notice bruises popping up all the time, especially in places you wouldn’t normally get them, like your hands or fingers, see a doctor. Unusual bruising can be a leukemia symptom, according to Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Over time, leukemia impairs the blood’s ability to carry oxygen and clot.