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15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore

Men, heed these possible clues and find cancer early, when it's more treatable.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Experts say that men could benefit greatly by being alert to certain cancer symptoms that require a trip to the doctor’s office sooner rather than later. But when it comes to scheduling doctor visits, men are notorious foot-draggers. 

Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, is deputy chief medical officer for the national office of the American Cancer Society. According to Lichtenfeld, men often need to be pushed by women to get screened for cancer. That’s unfortunate. Routine preventive care can find cancer and other diseases in their early stages. When cancer is found early, there are more options for treatment. That means there are also better chances for a cure.

Some cancer symptoms in men are specific. They involve certain body parts and may point directly to the possibility of cancer. Other symptoms are vague. For instance, pain that affects many body parts could have many explanations. It may or may not be a sign of cancer. But you can't rule cancer out without seeing a doctor.

Cancer Symptom in Men No. 1: Breast Mass

If you’re like most men, you’ve probably never considered the possibility of having breast cancer. Although it’s not common, it is possible. "Any new mass in the breast area of a man needs to be checked out by a physician," Lichtenfeld says.

In addition, the American Cancer Society identifies several other worrisome signs involving the breast that men as well as women should take note of. They include:

  • Skin dimpling or puckering
  • Nipple retraction
  • Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge

When you consult your physician about any of these signs, expect him to take a careful history and do a physical exam. Then, depending on the findings, the doctor may order a mammogram, a biopsy, or other tests.

Cancer Symptom in Men No. 2: Pain

As they age, people often complain of increasing aches and pains. But pain, as vague as it may be, can be an early symptom of some cancers. Most pain complaints, though, are not from cancer.

Any pain that persists, according to the American Cancer Society, should be checked out by your physician. The doctor should take a careful history, get more details, and then decide whether further testing is necessary. If it's not cancer, you will still benefit from the visit to the office. That’s because the doctor can work with you to find out what's causing the pain and determine the proper treatment.

Cancer Symptom in Men No. 3: Changes in the Testicles

Testicular cancer occurs most often in men aged 20 to 39. The American Cancer Society recommends that men get a testicular exam by a doctor as part of a routine cancer-related checkup. Some doctors also suggest a monthly self-exam.

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