Staying in touch with the body

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, August 31, 2017

The start of September today also marks the start of two important awareness campaigns: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

These types of cancers do not get the same level of attention as, say, breast cancer. However, they are just as deadly, and as they are cancers that can’t be detected through self-exam, often go unnoticed for too long.

Early stages of prostate cancer do not cause symptoms, according to the American Cancer Society. Later stages can cause: problems urinating; blood in the urine; trouble getting an erection; pain in the hips, back and chest; weakness or numbness in the legs or feet; and loss of bladder or bowel control.

By the same token, earlier stages of ovarian cancer can cause symptoms but oftentimes do not, according to the Cancer Society. In later stages, women may experience: bloating; pelvic or abdominal pain; trouble eating or feeling full; urinary symptoms (urgency, frequency); fatigue; back pain; menstrual changes; upset stomach or constipation, among others.

What these cancers have in common is the fact that their symptoms can often be attributed to other, much simpler problems. Back pain and urinary symptoms could signal a host of issues, and it’s unlikely for prostate or ovarian cancer to be the first thought on a patient’s mind.

An important takeaway from these facts is not to fear the disease, but rather to be proactive about one’s health. Staying aware of one’s body is of the utmost importance. Any sort of change in the body or persistent onset of symptoms should be cause for concern — not panic.

As with all types of cancer, staying in touch with a doctor and choosing to err on the side of caution could be a lifesaving decision. Life is simply too precious to take any chances.

It’s always better to know for sure, rather than be left wondering.