Dr RN Tagore, Sr. Consultant-Medical Oncology, Paras Cancer Centre, Patna shared that more than 80% of the men ignore their cancer signs and symptoms. It is clearly and statistically proved that early diagnosis and treatment of cancer not only cost-effective benefit but also increased survival. High risk population also gets benefited in their longevity with periodic screening. However, most of people undergo health check-up only when they come across a problem in their health condition. A few of some conscious people live a life of awareness and monitor their health issue on a regular and periodic basis. These may look like normal instances and men may take routine over the counter medication to treat the same. However, not consulting a specialist and delaying opting for diagnostic tests can complicate a medical situation. He also stresses on the important aspect of early detection and timely treatment in cancer. In an interview, Dr RN Tagore highlights the common signs & symptoms that men should keep in mind.
Q1. How prevalent is cancer in men in India?
In present scenario, Cancer is a major health problem not in developing country like India but globally and it accounts second most common cause of death in India after cardiac death. It is estimated that 30-lakh people in India suffer from cancer and of them 11-lakh are new cases. Cancer claims 5-lakh lives each year in India. It has also been highlighted that head-neck(upper aero-digestive) and lung cancer are the leading cancers in men. In other way India is going to be capital of tobacco-related cancer, as continuous using of tobacco related abuse even in younger and adolescence age group. Men however ignore the signs and symptoms and compromise the aspect of early detection and timely treatment in cancer. Their hesitation to see a consultant, opt for specialised tests is an incorrect practice, which needs to be rectified. This is the reason why more than 75% of the cancer cases that are diagnosed are usually in their advanced stage where even after best effort and treatment, cure and survival chance became minimal. So everyone should know and aware regarding early signs and symptom so it detect in early state.
Q2. What are the common signs and symptoms that men in India should keep a look out for?
If any people have any of these signs, see your doctor. These might be potential cancer symptoms.
- Persistent heartburn or indigestion– It is normal to feel slight discomfort or pain sometimes after eating a large, fatty or spicy meal. But if you are experiencing heartburn or indigestion a lot, or if it is particularly painful- sign of oesophageal or gastric cancer.
- Croaky voice or hoarseness– Having a croaky voice or feeling hoarse can be common with colds. But a croaky voice that hasn’t gone away on its own after a few weeks specially in smokers- a sign of lung or upper airway cancer.
- Frequent loose stool – Loose, frequent bowel motions are usually caused by stomach bugs or food poisoning, but if you have noticed a change to looser poo or pooing more often that has lasted 4-6 weeks or more, and often associated with blood- assign of lower gut cancer.
- Persistent boating– It’s quite common for women to experience bloating of the abdomen that comes and goes. But if you feel bloated, most days, for 3 weeks or more- gastric or hepatico-pancreatic-biliary cancer.
- Difficulty swallowing- A number of medical conditions can make it difficult to swallow. But if you are having difficulty swallowing or if it is particularly painful initially with solid but later on even with liquid diet and the problem doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks- a sign of esophageal cancer.
- Sore that won’t heal– The skin repairs itself very quickly and any damage usually heals within a week or so. When a spot, wart or sore doesn’t heal after several weeks, even if it’s painless-a sign of skin cancer.
- Mouth or tongue ulcer that won’t heal– It’s common to get ulcers in the mouth when you’re a bit run down. The lining of the mouth renews itself every 2 weeks or so, which is why ulcers usually heal within this time. But an ulcer that doesn’t heal after 3 weeks specially in tobacco user- a sign of oral cavity cancer.
- Heavy night sweats– Sweating at night can be caused by infections or it can be a side effect of certain medications. It’s also often experienced by women around the time of the meno-pause. But very heavy, drenching night sweats, fever and weight loss can also be a sign of cancer –a symptom of Lymphoma.
- Unusual breast changes– it is false belief that male person never have had breast cancer but in 5% breast cancer found in male so any lumps are not the only breast changes that should be reported to a doctor. Also look out for any change in the size, shape or feel of a breast, a change to the skin texture, redness, pain in the breast, a nipple change or fluid leaking specially blood tinged from the nipple in a woman who is not pregnant or breastfeeding – a sign of breast cancer.
- Breathlessness – It’s not unusual to feel out of breath every now and then. But if you notice that you’re feeling breathless more than usual or for a lot of the time- a sign of lung cancer .
- Blood in your stool– The most common cause of blood in your stools or poo is piles (haemorrhoids). But blood in your stool can sometimes be a sign of colon cancer if associated with small and pellet sized stool texture .
- Blood in urine– Blood in your pee (urine) should always be reported to a doctor. Usually this is not caused by cancer and can be treated quickly and easily, but it could be a sign of cancer of uro-genital system.
- Unexplained weight loss- Small weight changes over time are quite normal, but if you lose a noticeable amount of weight without trying – a early sign of many cancer specially haematological malignancy.
- New mole or change to a mole– Most moles remain harmless throughout our lives. But be aware of any new moles or existing moles that change in size, shape or colour, become crusty or bleed or ooze – a sign of skin cancer like malignant melanoma.
- Persistent cough and coughing up blood– If a cough continues for more than 3 weeks or gets worse and coughed up blood, no matter how much or what colour- a sign of lung cancer. It may be nothing to worry about, but it’s important to get it checked out.
- Problem in urination– Problems peeing (urinating) can include needing to urinate urgently, more frequently, being unable to go when you need to, or experiencing pain- a sign of Prostate cancer.
- Unexplained pain and ache– Pain is one way our bodies tell us that something is wrong. As we get older, it‘s more common to experience aches and pains. But if you have unexplained, ongoing pain, or pain that comes and goes for more than 4 weeks associated with anaemia and unexplained weight loss- a sign of Multiple myeloma..
- Unusual lump or swelling anywhere– Persistent lumps or swelling in any part of your body should be taken seriously, including in the neck, armpit, stomach, groin, chest, breast or testicle- a sign of haematological or solid cancer.