The thought of developing cancer would fill anybody with dread, but in the majority of cases, the key to successful treatment is early detection. That's why it is so important to act early if you notice any worrying symptoms.
If you're unsure what to look for, here are five cancer-related symptoms that men should never ignore.
Changes in the testicles
It's probably not something most men would openly discuss, but any change in the testicles should trigger a trip to the doctor. Testicular cancer commonly occurs in men aged between 20 and 39, and early diagnosis is essential. Any change in size, either growth or shrinkage, a swelling, lump or feeling of heaviness could signal a problem, and if you find a hard lump, make an doctor's appointment straight away.
Blood in the urine or stools, or when coughing, is a warning sign. If there is blood in the stool, for example, it could point to the onset of colon or bowel cancer, while blood in the urine could be caused by prostate, bladder or kidney cancer. A visit to the GP is a must.
If you're a smoker, it's particularly important that you keep an eye out for white spots that may occur inside your mouth or on the tongue. Changes such as these are often down to a pre-cancerous area known as leukoplakia, caused by frequent irritation. Left untreated or undiagnosed, it could progress to oral cancer. A doctor or dentist should be able to look closely at the issue and carry out further tests if there's anything to be worried about.
Most men experience changes in their urinary function as they get older but some urinary problems can be caused by the development of prostate cancer. If you feel the need to urinate more frequently, particularly during the night, and with a sense of urgency, it could be a sign. Trouble starting to pee, the feeling that you haven't emptied the bladder, or any leakage when laughing or coughing are other symptoms to watch for.
Abdominal pain and depression
Stomach pain is a symptom of many non-serious conditions and as such is often dismissed. However, a gnawing pain the abdomen combined with depression has been linked to pancreatic cancer. If that sounds familiar, watch for jaundice, a change in the colour of your stools (particularly grey), darker urine, and sometimes unexplained itching across the whole body. Even if none of the latter symptoms have developed, it is worth seeing your GP. If you experience persistent pain anywhere in the body, be sure to get checked out.
Have you ignored a symptom that proved significant? What advice would you give to others? Leave your comments below...