Cancer is among the most common causes of death in adult males in the U.S. While a healthy diet can lower the risk of developing certain cancers, other factors like genes can play a larger role. Once cancer spreads, it can be difficult to treat.
Knowing early symptoms can help you seek treatment sooner to better your chances of remission. Early symptoms of cancer in men include:
- bowel changes
- rectal bleeding
- urinary changes
- blood in urine
- persistent back pain
- unusual coughing
- testicular lumps
- excessive fatigue
- unexplained weight loss
- lumps in breast
Continue reading about these symptoms to find out what to look out for and what you should discuss with your doctor right away.
1. Bowel changes
The occasional bowel problem is normal, but changes in your bowels may indicate either colon or rectal cancer. These are collectively called colorectal cancers. Colon cancer can develop in any part of your colon, while rectal cancer affects your rectum, which connects the colon to the anus.
Frequent diarrhea and constipation may be symptoms of cancer, particularly if these bowel changes come on suddenly. These problems also may occur with frequent gas and abdominal pain.
A change in the caliber or size of your bowel movement may also be a symptom of cancer.
2. Rectal bleeding
Rectal bleeding may be an early sign of rectal cancer. This is especially concerning if the bleeding persists or if you’re found to have iron deficiency anemia due to blood loss. You may also notice blood in your stools.
Although there are other more common causes of rectal bleeding like hemorrhoids, you shouldn’t try to diagnose yourself if you’re having these symptoms. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. You should get regular colon cancer screenings starting at age 50.
3. Urinary changes
Incontinence and other urinary changes may develop as you age. However, certain symptoms may indicate prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is most common in men ages 60 and older.
Common urinary symptoms include:
- urinary leaks
- an inability to urinate despite urges to go
- delayed urination
- straining during urination
4. Blood in your urine
If you have blood in your urine, you shouldn’t ignore it. This is a common symptom of bladder cancer. This type of cancer is more common in current and former smokers than in people who’ve never smoked. Prostatitis, prostate cancer, and urinary tract infections can also cause blood in your urine.
Early prostate cancer can also cause blood in your semen.
5. Persistent back pain
Back pain is a common cause of disability, but few men realize that it may be a symptom of cancer. Symptoms of cancer may not show until it has spread to other parts of your body, such as the bones of your spine. For example, prostate cancer is especially prone to spread to the bones and may cause these symptoms within your hip bones and lower back.
Unlike occasional muscle pain, cancer of the bone causes tenderness and discomfort in your bones.
6. Unusual coughing
Coughing isn’t exclusive to smokers or to people with a cold or allergies. A persistent cough is an early sign of lung cancer. If you don’t have any other related symptoms, such as a stuffy nose or fever, the cough probably isn’t due to a virus or infection.
Coughing accompanied with bloody mucus is also associated with lung cancer in men.
7. Testicular lumps
Testicular cancers in men are less common than cancers of the prostate, lungs, and colon. Still, you shouldn’t ignore early symptoms. Lumps in the testicles are symptoms of testicular cancer.
Doctors look for these lumps during wellness checks. For earliest detection, you should check for lumps once per month.
8. Excessive fatigue
Fatigue can be related to a number of chronic illnesses and medical disorders. Excessive fatigue is your body’s way of telling you that something just isn’t right. As cancer cells grow and reproduce, your body may start to feel run down.
Fatigue is a common symptom of various cancers. See your doctor if you have excessive tiredness that doesn’t go away after a good night’s sleep.
9. Unexplained weight loss
It becomes more difficult to maintain your weight as you age, so you might consider weight loss as a positive thing. But sudden and unexplained weight loss can indicate a serious health problem, including almost any type of cancer.
If you rapidly lose weight without changing your diet or how much you exercise, discuss this with your doctor.
10. Lumps in the breast
Breast cancer isn’t exclusive to women. Men also need to be on guard and check for suspicious lumps in the breast area. This is the earliest detectable symptom of male breast cancer. Call your doctor immediately for testing if you notice a lump.
Genes can play a role in male breast cancer, but it may also occur due to exposure to radiation or high estrogen levels. Breast lumps are most commonly found in men in their 60s.
Many cancers are difficult to detect in the earliest stages, but some may cause noticeable differences. Knowing the most common cancer symptoms is vital to obtaining a prompt diagnosis. Still, the exact signs and symptoms of cancer can vary. As a rule of thumb, you should always see your doctor if you suspect something isn’t right.