Cancer patient in hospital bed

Attention Malaysians! The 7 Symptoms of Cancer That Could Save Your Life

You know it's cancer awareness week when you start seeing a lot of charity runs or pink ribbons on your social media timeline. While all these efforts are highly lauded, many of us are still not as educated as we should be, until it hits us or people that we know. Sounds bleak, but that's the harsh truth. Cancer could creep up on anybody, even on someone who leads a generally h­ealthy lifestyle.

However, there are signs and symptoms that could alert you to certain types of cancer, and if action is taken right away, could probably save your life. In this article, Loanstreet together with Prudential tries to touch briefly on these signs and symptoms. But first, let's talk about our friend at Prudential...

Cancer Protection Doesn't Have to Be Expensive 

If you choose to be financially prepared for the unexpected, a cancer protection plan is a good way to go. However, not everyone can afford a policy that requires you to set aside hundreds of Ringgit every month.

With PRUCancer X, you can get covered with a plan that is affordable, from as low as RM400 annually. This policy also offers:

  • High cancer coverage of up to RM2 million

  • Easy enrolment where you're asked questions specific to cancer risks only

  • Early-stage cancer coverage upon the diagnosis of specific cancer types including Carcinoma-in-situ

  • Compassionate benefit in the event of death to assist your family with funeral expenses

Now, as we get into the symptoms, do keep in mind that many of the symptoms below can be caused by something other than cancer. However, it is still very important to see a doctor right away if you encounter any of them: 

1. Swelling in your testicle 

A lot of you men might be (too) familiar with your penis, but how well do you know your testicles? Testicular self-examination is relatively easy. Firstly, you can stand in front of the mirror and look for any changes in size or shape. Take note that it is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger or hang lower than the other.

Secondly, you can do it after a warm shower where the scrotum sac is soft and relaxed. Just feel up your testicles gently and make sure that they feel smooth with no lumps or swellings, and painless.

There should not be any unusual difference between one testicle and the other. Also look out for other symptoms such as a dull ache in the abdomen or groin, or blood in the semen. 

2. Blood in your poop 

Cancers of the colon and rectum, known as colorectal cancer, is the second most common cancer in Malaysia according to a study done in 2012.

A colorectal cancer survivor, Mariana Zaine, advises everybody to do early screenings at the hospital as a measure against the disease.

“Most colorectal cancers are from polyps. Before it becomes cancerous, if they do a colonoscopy, the doctor can just take it out and that’s it.” – Mariana Zaine, quoted by The Malay Mail.

Some of the alarming symptoms of colorectal cancer are bloody stool (your poop, not the chair you sit on) and sudden change in bowel movement that lasts more than three weeks (diarrhoea or constipation). 

3. Lump in your breast 

Though we've always been taught that breast self-examinations is important, medical communities (including the American Cancer Society) have since updated their recommendations to no longer recommend breast exams - either from a medical provider or self-exams. That said, all women should learn to be familiar with breasts normally look or feel and report any changes to their healthcare provider right away.

Among the new recommendations is yearly mammograms, and women should be able to start screening as early as age 40, if they want to.

Common symptoms of breast cancer include lumps; changes to the nipple; changes to the skin, size or shape of the breast; and swelling or discomfort in the armpit. 

4. Persistent coughing 

According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2007-2011, lung cancer is the third most common type in the country, and it is more prevalent amongst men. The cause? Local data suggested that it is largely due to smoking habits. So if you're a smoker, it is highly recommended that you go for a screening. It is also highly recommended that... you quit smoking altogether!

Common symptoms of lung cancer include coughing up blood, chest pain or breathlessness, and coughing that doesn’t go away. 

5. Lumps under the skin 

Lymphoma is the general term for cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system sieve and remove excess fluids from the body and plays an important role in the immune system. The problem starts when abnormal white cells called lymphocytes become cancer cells and multiply in the lymph nodes.

This disease is divided into two categories called Hodgkin’s Disease (HD) and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). The signs and symptoms include enlarged and palpable lymph nodes commonly found in the neck, armpit, and  groin. 

6. Trouble getting erection 

Erectile dysfunction is not just a problem in itself that could cause you a lot of emotional distress, but can be a much more worrying symptom of prostate cancer. Apart from that, other symptoms include changes in bladder habits such as a weak urinary system, the need to urinate more often, and blood in the urine.

The same changes in bladder habits above can also be the symptoms of bladder cancer. It is also worth noting that according to the American Cancer Society, smoking causes half of all bladder cancer in both men and women in the States. 

7. Unexplained weight loss 

If you suddenly shed 5 kg of body weight without any changes in diet or exercise, don't pop the champagne bottle for celebration just yet. Unexplained weight loss can be a symptom for a lot of cancer types including ones of the pancreas, stomach, oesophagus, and lungs.

Unfortunately for most of these symptoms, they are only visible in the late stages of cancer, causing the treatment cost to skyrocket. That's why... 

Being Financially Prepared is Part of the Awareness 

Cancer treatment can get very expensive and can cause a heavy financial burden on the individuals. This is not only caused by the treatment itself but other factors such as loss of personal income and having to hire caretakers. Imagine if you're a breadwinner and you got inflicted with this unfortunate circumstances, who's gonna be able to provide for the family?

Unless you're one of the lucky few with plenty of spare cash lying around, you might want to take precaution by considering a plan that only costs you a few hundred Ringgit per year.

So while you are encouraged to do as much as you can to avoid cancer by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is also not a bad idea to invest a little bit of money that could save you a hundred thousand Ringgit in the long run.

If you want to get started on an insurance plan, connect with a Prudential Wealth Planner today!