SYMPTOMS

10 Surprising Symptoms That Turned Out to Be Cancer

A man gets a positive pregnancy test. A woman with a large Adam’s apple. Oozing green fluid. These bizarre symptoms all turned out to be signs of cancer.

“I got a positive pregnancy test. I’m a man.”

Pregnancy test on dark gray background. positive result.

“I was just messing around with some friends one night in college when I mentioned that I had found a weird lump on one of my balls. We were all joking about it, but I was really kind of worried. Then one of my friends told me he’d read on the Internet that if you pee on a pregnancy test, it can detect testicular cancer. One of my buddies said his mom had some in a cabinet and brought me a test and dared me to pee on it. I did… and it turned positive! Apparently pregnancy tests measure levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by pregnant women but can sometimes go up due to testicular cancer. I made an appointment at the student health clinic for the next day. The doc said the pregnancy test was really old and probably just gave me a false positive, but he did think the lump was concerning enough that he sent me to get some real tests done. It turned out I really did have testicular cancer. I had surgery to get it removed, and my ‘boys’ are totally fine now. Did the pregnancy test really find my cancer? Who knows, but at least it got me to go to the doctor.” —Shaun P., 28, Boston, Massachusetts. [Note: Not all types of testicular cancer secrete HCG, so don’t rely only on a pregnancy test. Always get any lump checked by a doctor.]

 

“I couldn’t see my coworker’s face”

Phoropter, ophthalmic testing device machine

“I’d never had any major health problems, but then one day, out of the blue, I started getting weird symptoms—I could hear my heartbeat loudly in my ear and my vision would get hazy and spotty. At first, I thought it was due to the bad fluorescent lights in my office and too much time staring at my computer screen. But it just wouldn’t go away! I made an appointment with my doctor. He ran a hearing test, which I passed, and then (I’ll never forget this!) told me to ‘quit being a baby and get back to work,’ and that my symptoms were ‘all in my head.’ A few days later, a co-worker was standing in my office doorway and I realized I could only see half of her face. I’d suddenly lost half my vision. She insisted I go to an eye doctor immediately. I made an emergency appointment with an ophthalmologist, and he discovered I had a brain tumor. Fortunately, they were able to treat it. Today I’m not totally healed, but I’m much better. Had I waited even a few days longer, I would have had permanent vision loss or worse. I’m so thankful I listened to my coworker and not that doctor; it could have ended so differently for me.”

“My nipple started leaking green liquid”

numb

“One day at work I looked down at my shirt and saw a green spot on my chest. I was embarrassed, thinking I must have spilled something on myself at lunch. (I’m not the most coordinated person so it wouldn’t have been out of character for me.) But as the day went on, the green stain started to spread. As soon as I got home, I went to take off my shirt to get a closer look and realized it was stuck to my chest! It was my breast that was leaking green fluid. I went to my doctor and was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was shocked, as I had never felt a lump, but I learned that not all breast cancers show up as lumps. My cancer was in my milk duct, something I never could have felt on my own. I’d never heard before that strange nipple discharge can also be a sign of cancer. So while the green goo was gross, I’m grateful for it as it helped me get diagnosed and treated very early, before it could spread.”

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