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Cancer Symptoms In Men

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
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Symptoms at a glance - Am I at risk?
It is the fear of the unknown that makes men avoid going to a doctor, even when their gut and body tells them something is wrong. This is a big problem as basic annual preventive care/testing can find several cancers in men or even other diseases like diabetes in the early stages, when there are more options for treatment and better chances of a cure. Some of the following signs could be early warning symptoms of a developing cancer. So, go get tested!
Pain or difficulty in urinating - it may be a sign of prostate cancer
Testicular lumps may be a sign of testicular cancer
Pelvic pain may indicate prostate & testicular cancer
Sore lesion or growth on penis - penile cancers
Frequent stomach upsets or bowel habits- colon cancers
Breast changes (breast cancer - Yes! It can strike men too!)
Coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath (may be a sign of lung cancer)
Fatigue is a general symptom of all cancers. Any fatigue that comes in the way of day to day activity should be reported to the doctor.
Cancer is the second biggest killer in the world after cardiovascular disease. It killed 7.6 million people in 2005. The number is expected to rise to 9 million & 11.5 million in 2015 & 2030 respectively (WHO statistics).
Lifestyle Risk Factors:
Smoking & Chewing tobacco
Poor diet
Excessive alcohol consumption
sedentary lifestyle
Type 2 diabetes
Result of treatment for other cancers
Lifestyle factors are highly responsible for the incidence of many cancers in men. 40% cancers are preventable & 33% cancers are curable. A UK Cancer Research has shown that 60% more men are likely to develop cancer than women & 70% more are likely to die of cancer than women.
Reasons for these differences could be many. Men do not like to discuss their health problems, because it may be seen as a sign of weakness. Statistics have shown that they take less care of themselves than women. A research (2008) from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain revealed that 59% of men are inhibited about asking for medical help & only ask for it if they are in ?great pain or very ill'. The study concluded that this macho approach may be responsible for a 5 year reduction in their life expectancy.
Lung cancer: is the highest killer amongst all cancers in the world. Tobacco consumption is the cause of 90% of lung cancer cases. Other factors include second-hand smoke, air pollution & exposure to asbestos. Tobacco accounts for 53 % of all cancers in men.

Oral Cancer: India has one of the highest incidences of oral cancer in the world. It has been linked to the habit of betel quid chewing. It accounts for 12% & 8% of the cancers amongst men & women respectively. Smoking, chewing tobacco, & dipping snuff are all responsible for oral cancers. The risk multiplies in those who consume large amounts of alcohol as well. 3 out of 4 cases of oral cancers are in people who consume alcohol, tobacco or both. Not eating adequate fruits & vegetables adds to the risk of developing oral cancers.

Prostate cancer: Not enough is known about what causes prostate cancer, although it is treatable if diagnosed early enough. Unfortunately, the patient remains asymptomatic till it has spread to other parts of the body. Thus screening becomes crucial for timely treatment. The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, but that does not mean that younger men are completely shielded from it. "The younger a man is, the more aggressive the tumor is," says Stephen F. Sener, MD, ACS president. A diet very high in red meats & high fat dairy products with not enough fruits & vegetables can add to the risk.
Prevention is better than cure
Staying healthy does not involve too much effort. Simple changes like eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, adequate physical exercise, quitting smoking, giving up tobacco/betel quid chewing, restricting the consumption of alcohol, managing stress & regular screening can go a long way in ensuring a disease free life for a longer period of time.
Screening & Men
Regular checkups are the key to good health & should include tests for
Body fat percentage
Heart health
Testicular examination (including regular self examination)
Prostate cancer screening
Skin examination
Dental checkups
Eye tests
Regular visits to the doctor must offer a comprehensive package focussing on specific disease treatment (if
any is present), counselling for smoking cessation, diet counselling & physical exercise recommendations in order to reduce risk of developing diseases.
It's time men changed their attitudes towards their health for 'Every human being is the author of his own health or disease'- Buddha
Poonam Vaswani
Sr. Dietitian,
New study Profiles Women's Use of Health Care-CDC
Checkups & tests for men (
Men at greater risk of dying from cancer than women (
Oral Cancer,
Cancer in India- An Overview. Radhika Bobba, MD, Country Manager, Pharm-Olam International (India) Private Ltd, Bangalore, India, Yamin Khan, PhD, Director of Clinical Operations, Pharm-Olam International (UK) Ltd, Ascot, UK
Cervical Cancer in Context of the Global Cancer Burden- Andreas Ullrich, MD, MPH World Health Organization



User Comments

31 May, 2010 | Rohit | Reply

Rohit Thanks for posting such comprehensive article on cancer in men.

12 May, 2010 | Naina, Amritsar | Reply

Naina, Amritsar My mother and her sister have had breast cancer and I have been tested regularly - thank god nothing.
Can I be at risk for other cancers, not just breast cancer?

I am a somewhat overweight.
Also, should I get these new vaccine for cervical cancer. What age do they give them.

12 October, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Dear Naina,

You have mentioned about getting yourself checked regularly for breast cancer is really good. If there is a family history of cancer then it is better to undergo a complete medical check once a year. Mention to the health care provider about the presence of cancer in the family, so that he can ask for some specific tests that you have to undergo like the pap smear, mammogram, ultra sound scan along with some blood tests. This will give you a clear picture of your health status.

Also reduce your weight with a healthy and balanced diet and good exercise regimen. This will cut down the risk further. I suggest you register online with our website for a weight reduction program where you will be given a customized diet plan.

Thanks for your query.

12 May, 2010 | Anshuman | Reply

Anshuman Please let me know if routine blood test can indicate potential cancers.
I mean to say, I get my annual health chk at my company, they have routine cholesterol and sugar and my BP is chked.

Can those tests show something abnormal, or should I get more testing.

My fathers brother died of colon cancer and my mother has diabetes.

I am 36 years old and otherwise healthy. I eat healthy too.No other problem there.

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