Auntie Says, cancer awareness, colon cancer, Faye Arcand, Faye E. Arcand, live life, self help

Cancers Below the Belt–What you Need to Know

This is a candid discussion about cancers below the waist. I’m not a doctor so please feel free to seek further information–in fact, I encourage it. I’m an Auntie who cares and wants you to grow and get old. This article may not be for you–and that’s ok.

~~~~~

I wasn’t sure 2020 could get any worse and then Chadwich Boseman of Marvel movie The Black Panther and other great films dies from colon cancer at the age of 43! Like what? That’s crazy.

He kept his diagnosis and cancer fight private and continued to work between surgeries and chemotherapy.

Boseman leaves a long legacy with his work. He made a true impact for African American fans who finally saw themselves being represented as a super hero. Sadly, his passing leaves us with the reminder that cancer doesn’t care who you are or how old you are.

Cancer can strike at any age. Today I want to discuss the down-there cancers. The ones that can make you blush and perhaps make you feel a little uncomfortable when you’re thinking of the nether regions.

I’m sharing this information as a writer–not as a medical professional. If you think anything could be wrong please seek medical attention as soon as possible. The main thing to remember is that no one is exempt and yes, it does happen to younger people.

One thing only you can do is to get to know your body. Know how it reacts, what’s normal for you and what’s not, check your poop and bodily fluids. The reason for this is because the sooner you catch an abnormality, the better.

Guys

Testicular Cancer

As the Testicular Cancer Canada site says… You need to grab testicular cancer by the balls.

Here’s a little anatomy lesson for you: The testicles are oval shaped glands which are housed inside a sac of skin called the scrotum which hangs below the penis. Testicles make sperm and testosterone. It is normal for one testes to be slightly larger than the other.

Know your normal shape so you can be aware if a change or a lump–no matter the size–appears on the testicles.

Here are some facts:

  • Testicular cancer is the most prevalent cancer in men aged 15 to 35, but it’s also among the most treatable when caught early.
  • It is actually the most common cancer in young men in Canada. It is also one of the most curable cancers. 
  • 1 in 250 guys will get this cancer in their lifetime.

If you find a lump on one of your testicles it’s imperative you seek medical attention. This is not a time to be embarrassed or shy because that lump could be cancer.

According to the Canadian National Cancer Institute:

“Of all cancers, testicular cancer is the one that has the highest cure rate.”

Further:

“Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in young men. It’s a subject matter that leaves many guys embarrassed. But if we lessen the stigma and get more guys talking about their nuts, well that’ll save many more lives. In fact, if testicular cancer is caught early enough, men have a 97% chance of survival. #LetsTalkBalls”

Check out the site for more information, symptoms, what to watch for, and contact information. All the facts are there.

Basically what it comes down to is if you detect any lump on your testicles (which are housed in the scrotum) then call the doctor. Look back at the facts:

“most prevalent cancer in men aged 15-35”

Penile Cancer

Cancer of the penis

The first noticeable symptom of penile cancer is typically a lump, mass, or ulcer on the penis. It may look like a small, insignificant bump or a large, infected sore. In most cases, it’ll be located on the head or foreskin instead of on the shaft of the penis. Usually older guys…like 50 but be aware of your body.

Be aware.

Anal Cancer

This cancer is found is both men and women.

It is more common in those practicing anal sex. More common in older individual. Here are the symptoms.

Colon Cancer or Colorectal Cancer

This is what killed Chadwich Boseman. It is not a fun thing to talk about but you need to be aware of what it’s all about. It is found in both men and women.

The colon is part of the large intestine leading to the rectum and then anus. In this diagram you can see where the cancer is situated. The name is either colon cancer or colorectal cancer. Often times both the rectum and colon are involved.

from SCNow.com

From the Canadian Cancer Society web page: signs and symptoms

See your doctor if you have these signs or symptoms: 

  • diarrhea
  • constipation (you should poop every couple of days. If you’re taking a week or more to poop that is constipation and you need to eat some fiber)
  • stool (poop) that looks narrower than usual
  • feeling like the rectum is not completely empty after a bowel movement
  • bright or very dark red blood in the stool
  • bleeding from the rectum
  • gas, abdominal cramps and feeling bloated
  • pain or discomfort in the rectum (bum)
  • a lump in the abdomen or rectum
  • fatigue and weakness
  • anemia, which can cause fatigue and shortness of breath
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • a blockage in the intestine (called a bowel obstruction)
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • enlarged liver
  • jaundice
  • a buildup of fluid in the abdomen (called ascites) 
  • pain in the abdomen, back, buttocks or legs
  • breathing problems

With colorectal cancer there could be genetic or hereditary factors so it’s very important to know all your family history. It is rare to strike before the age of 25 and is more common age 40 plus. Boseman was only 43.

Girls

You also need be aware of colon and anal cancers. There are other things you need to watch for too. Namely…

Ovarian, vulvar, uterine, cervical, and vaginal cancers. These usually strike women over 40 but there are cases with younger patients. You need to be aware and know your body. Here are some things to watch for:

  • bleeding from the vagina that isn’t normal (such as heavy or irregular bleeding, bleeding between periods), at any time but especially after menopause
  • frequent discharge from the vagina that is clear, white or coloured with blood
  • a lump that can be felt in the pelvis or abdomen
  • bladder problems such as the need to urinate often and the urgent need to urinate
  • constipation
  • changes to digestion such as feeling full after a small meal, loss of appetite, heartburn, gas, indigestion or nausea
  • frequent feeling of pressure in the pelvis or abdomen
  • fatigue
  • pain in the legs, lower back, pelvis or abdomen
  • pain when having sex
  • swelling of the abdomen
  • weight loss
  • buildup of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), around the lungs (pleural effusion) or in the legs (lymphedema)
  • difficulty breathing

Risk factors include things like family history, endometriosis, smoking, obesity, and using talc powder on genital area (never use any product internally and douches can upset the necessary bacteria in your vagina so should be avoided).

There are many things that can go wrong down there. Things like cancer or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You only have one body and an infection can not only wreak havoc on your health but also on your future as you’ll need to disclose your past to new partners–that is part of being responsible and mature–and could cause problems when you want to start a family.

Guys and Girls...There’s lots I could say about STDs but will just give you some of the symptoms to watch for. If any of these show themselves you’re to get to a doctor immediately.

  • Clear, white, greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge.
  • Discharge from the penis.
  • Strong vaginal odor.
  • Vaginal itching or irritation.
  • Itching or irritation inside the penis.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Painful urination

Life is too short and needs to be lived. You really want to stay healthy and you do that through awareness and seeking help when required. And, for God’s sake, where a condom and practice safe sex.

Remember I’m not a doctor, I’m just an Auntie who wants you to be well. Always seek medical advice and don’t wait…

Stay healthy. Be Safe.


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