Men: You Should Never Ignore These 2 Symptoms

Self exams, regular checkups are critical
Men: You Should Never Ignore These 2 Symptoms

By: Eric Klein, MD

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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.

In prostate cancer, there are usually no symptoms and it is detected through screening with the PSA blood test.

Even if it is simply to rule out more serious problems, you should see a doctor if you experience these two symptoms:

1. Changes and pain in your testicles

Testes cancer, or testicular cancer, occurs mainly in men between the ages of 15-35, 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.

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If you do notice any of these changes in either of your testicles, see your primary care doctor for an evaluation.

2. 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 or bladder cancer. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you ever see blood in your urine.

What happens after you notice symptoms?

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.

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. 

RELATED: How Does Diet Affect Your Prostate Cancer Risk? (Video)

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Simple blood test is key to finding prostate cancer early

Prostate cancer — the most common type of cancer in men — most cases are asymptomatic, meaning there are no symptoms.

Instead, 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, and 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 the 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.

RELATED: Learn more about prostate cancer treatment and surgery

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