Cancer is a terrifying disease for anyone. According to the National Cancer Institute, while both men and women are susceptible to cancer, men have a higher mortality rate from the disease. Part of this may be attributed to the fact that some forms of cancer in men are difficult to detect before they’ve spread and are harder to treat. Could you identify potential cancer symptoms in yourself?
Men are more likely than women to die from cancer. Do you know how to identify cancer symptoms in yourself? Read about the most common types of men’s cancer here. #MainStreetMedical #MainStreetClinics #menshealth Click To Tweet
Cancer in Men
Certain types of cancer are unique to men, while other types can be experienced by either sex. Any type of cancer has the potential to be deadly. Identifying symptoms and beginning treatment in the early stages is crucial to recovery. Here are several of the most common types of cancer in men you should watch out for:
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Skin cancer
- Liver cancer
- Esophageal cancer
1) Lung Cancer
Lung cancer holds the highest number of cancer fatalities among men. Unsurprisingly, the biggest risk factors for contracting lung cancer are habitual smoking or, to a lesser extent, long-term exposure to secondhand smoke. You may not notice symptoms at first, but when the cancer spreads, you’ll notice several unmistakable signs:
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Loud breathing
- Shortness of breath
Your treatment depends on how far the cancer has spread and where in the lungs it formed. Talk to your doctor about treatments specifically for your situation.
2) Prostate Cancer
While it’s only the second most deadly form of cancer in men, prostate cancer tends to get more attention simply because of the fact that only men can get it. The prostate, a small organ located just under a man’s bladder, helps regulate the flow of urine out of the body. Prostate cancer isn’t likely to cause noticeable symptoms until it’s relatively advanced. These symptoms include:
- Blood in urine
- Leaking urine
- Difficulty urinating
- Noticeable bone pain
Treatment for prostate cancer usually begins with a period of simple observation, keeping an eye on the cancer to see if it continues to grow. Aggressive prostate cancer is then treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and other standard cancer treatments. Fortunately, these treatments are usually successful! 98% of prostate cancer patients survived ten years or longer following their diagnosis.
Unlike lung cancer, prostate cancer has no single cause. Your family’s history, genetics, race, or age are unchangeable and can all pose a risk to your health. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise may reduce your risk.
3) Bladder Cancer
At first, symptoms of bladder cancer may be similar to those of prostate cancer. However, you’re more likely to experience constant urges to urinate rather than difficulty urinating. Symptoms include:
- Blood in urine (the most common sign)
- Blood clots in urine
- Burning pain in bladder area
- Constant urge to urinate
The most common and effective bladder cancer treatments involve surgery or injecting medicines directly into the bladder. The earlier you’re diagnosed, the higher the likelihood these treatments will be successful. And fortunately, the survival rate of bladder cancer is still high, hovering about 90% over the five years following diagnosis.
A family history of cancer, regular exposure to hazardous chemicals, and aging can all be risk factors for bladder cancer. However, the single biggest risk factor is smoking. Smoking is believed to nearly double your risk. To protect yourself from developing bladder cancer, stop smoking and if you’re a nonsmoker, don’t start.
4) Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer develops in the colon and rectum, most commonly causing a change in bowel habits. Symptoms include:
- Rectal bleeding and/or blood in stool
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Very thin stool
- Unexplained increase or decrease in bowel movement frequency
The best treatment for colorectal cancer is early detection. Colonoscopies and cancer screenings can detect cancer polyps or growths that can be removed, drastically reducing your risk of developing full-blown cancer later on. If the cancer has already developed, however, treatments will depend on the extent of the growth.
To reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer, lead a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, get regular cancer screenings, avoid (or quit) smoking, and limit daily alcohol consumption to 2 drinks.
5) Skin Cancer
Skin cancer, sometimes called melanoma, is particularly tricky to diagnose. Symptoms don’t usually include noticeable pain or discomfort. Particularly large freckles or moles that you’ve had for your entire life could be hiding cancer cells, and new ones that appear are likely to be cancerous. Inspect your skin, especially your scalp and the soles of your feet, frequently and take note of any new moles or open sores that aren’t healing. Pay attention to moles and freckles you’ve had for years–are they growing or developing a different color or texture? Any of these signs could point to cancer, particularly if your family has a history of melanoma. Tell your doctor about concerning changes.
Early stages of skin cancer can be removed by surgery, while more developed cases may require radiation or more extensive treatments. Fortunately, the potential risks of developing skin cancer are more in your control. Use a high SPF sunscreen when spending a long time outdoors and do your best to avoid sunburns. In addition to a healthy lifestyle in general, protecting your skin from sun damage will help reduce your risk.
Pro Tip: Skin cancer can look like an innocent freckle at first. If you notice new moles or freckles appearing, or existing ones are changing shape, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
6) Liver Cancer
Cancer in the liver and bile duct can take on two forms. Cancer may spread into the liver from elsewhere in the body (cancer metastatic to the liver), or it can develop in the liver itself (primary liver cancer). But no matter how it starts, liver cancer is a very serious condition. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
Unfortunately, no effective screening for liver cancer exists. The best thing you can do is reduce your risk through preventive health efforts. Reduce your alcohol intake, avoid foods that could contain dangerous molds called aflatoxins, and pursue treatment for hepatitis B and C if you have them. You may still have a genetic risk, but caring for your health in other ways reduces the chances of developing liver cancer.
7) Esophageal Cancer
Esophageal cancer develops in or around the esophagus. Unsurprisingly, this can manifest in difficulty swallowing even liquids. Symptoms of esophageal cancer include:
- Consistent coughing
- Weight loss
- Feeling like something is caught in the throat
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
Esophageal cancer can take two forms: squamous cell carcinoma, a consequence of heavy drinking and habitual smoking, or esophageal adenocarcinoma, resulting from inflammatory diseases of the esophagus. Heartburn, especially the more severe form known as Barrett’s Esophagus, can irritate your esophagus and increase your risk.
In addition to leading a healthy lifestyle overall, pursue treatments for heartburn if you find yourself frequently suffering from esophageal pain. Your best chance to reduce your risk is to control the biggest contributing factor.
Listen to Your Body
No one wants to hear that they have cancer. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life for many people. Don’t let symptoms go ignored until it’s too late. If you experience any of the symptoms described above on an ongoing basis, with no clear cause or treatment, it’s time to see a doctor. The earlier cancer is identified, the higher the chances that it can be treated successfully.
Join the conversation to learn more about cancer in men and how to reduce your risk.