Men: never ignore these two symptoms
Do you put off seeing a doctor for regular checkups or to discuss a health concern? This can be risky.
While symptoms often can be benign or require minimal treatment, in some cases, they also can be early signs of cancer. By dismissing them without talking to a doctor, you could miss a chance for early cancer diagnosis — and early treatment.
Doctors identify each of the most common cancers in men — prostate, testes, bladder and kidney — differently. Some signs may suggest cancer, while others may indicate some other condition.
Even if it is simply to rule out more serious problems, you should see a doctor if you experience these two symptoms:
- Changes and pain in your testicles
Testes cancer, or testicular cancer, occurs mainly in men between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can also develop in children and older men. The most common symptoms are pain, swelling, hardness or a lump in the testicle. You can detect all of these signs with a self-exam.
If you do notice any of these changes in either of your testicles, see your primary care doctor for an evaluation.
- Blood in your urine
As a sign by itself, blood in the urine (hematuria) is usually associated with other non-cancerous conditions, such as an enlarged prostate or a kidney or bladder stone. However, this is also one of the signs of both kidney cancer and bladder cancer. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you ever see blood in your urine.
If you detect either of these two symptoms, it’s best to see your doctor first for an initial evaluation and further instructions. Your doctor may then send you to a urologist for a more detailed assessment and possible testing.
Testing for cancer
If needed, tests for these cancers will include the following:
— If you notice changes in your testicles, an ultrasound of the testicles is the first step; depending on the results, your doctor may order additional tests and treatments.
— For blood in the urine, a urine culture and cytology test (to analyze contents of urine), CT urogram (imaging exam for urinary tract) and cystoscopy (visual exam of bladder) are typical tests.
In prostate cancer, there are usually no symptoms, so it is usually diagnosed with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This is a simple blood test to determine the levels of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate gland.
I suggest having your first PSA test at age 50. The results will determine how often you need to get tested in the future. If it is at or below average, then you should have another PSA in five years. If it’s above average, I recommend a PSA every two years.
Younger men should also perform a monthly self-exam of the testicles and be aware of any changes or lumps that may develop. Watching for these symptoms, and checking with your doctor if you notice anything unusual, will increase your chances of detecting cancer early and getting the necessary treatment.
For self-exam instructions, see testicularcancersociety.org/testicular-self-exam.html.
This information provided by Cleveland Clinic HealthEssentials. A Wellness Update is a magazine devoted to up-to-the minute information on health issues from physicians, major hospitals and clinics, universities and healthcare agencies across the U.S. Online at www.awellnessupdate.com.
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