Detecting Cancer Early

Cancer Warning Signs

Early detection of cancer is important because it is usually easier to treat—and possibly cure—when caught sooner rather than later. Do you know what signs to look for in some of the most common types of cancer?

Changes, lumps, or hard masses in the testicles are signs of testicular cancer.

In most cases of testicular cancer, the man has a lump on a testicle or notices that the testicle is swollen. A testicular exam should be included as part of a man's general health checkup. See your healthcare provider if you notice any abnormalities in your testicles.

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Prostate cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages.

Signs of advanced prostate cancer include difficulty in urination, back pain, trouble getting an erection, and blood in the urine. Screening for prostate cancer can help determine if you have cancer. Screening tests often include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Talk with your healthcare provider about the pros and cons of regular screening starting at age 50, or earlier if you are at higher risk.

A change in bowel habits is a common symptom of colon cancer.

A change in bowel habits such as blood in the stool or chronic constipation is a symptom of colon and rectal cancer. Other symptoms include rectal bleeding, abdominal cramping, and weight loss. The American Cancer Society recommends people at average risk start regular colorectal cancer screenings at age 45. If you’re overweight or obese, or have other risk factors for colorectal cancer, talk with your healthcare provider about whether getting screened sooner might be right for you.

Lumps, hard knots, or a thickening in the breast could mean breast cancer. 

All women should be familiar with how their breasts look and feel and report any changes to their healthcare provider.Mammography is an important tool for finding breast cancer early on, when it’s easiest to treat. For those at average risk, the American Cancer Society recommends a yearly screening for all women ages 45 to 54 and screening every two years for women ages 55 and older.

A nagging cough or hoarseness could be signs of lung cancer.

Other possible signs are a chest ache and increased saliva or blood in the saliva. These symptoms could be caused by something other than cancer, but be sure to have any of these checked out by your healthcare provider.

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