Know Your Risks: Prostate & Testicular Cancer

Know Your Risks: Prostate & Testicular Cancer

Prostate and testicular cancer are both types of cancer that can affect men. Here is all you need to know about the risk factors and what to look out for as possible signs of these illnesses.

According to the World Health Organization, prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in men. In high-income countries, like the United States, it is one of the most common causes of cancer and in middle-income countries like South Africa, it is becoming increasingly common as people adopt lifestyles that put one at risk for this potentially fatal disease.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly. Prostate cancer still confined to the prostate gland and is detected early, has a better chance of successful treatment.

Risk factors for prostate cancer

A lot of research has been done to try and find out what might cause this common form of cancer. So far, research has found that various factors play a role in the development of prostate cancer and associated risk factors include the following:
• A family history of prostate cancer (two or more family members have had prostate cancer)
• Race- African men are more likely to get this illness than men of other races.
• How much alcohol you drink: strangely enough, drinking either large amounts of alcohol or no alcohol at all will increase your risk of prostate cancer- a good argument for the old adage that moderation is key!
• Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea
• Night-shift work
• Cigarette smoking

Signs you may have prostate cancer

In the early stages, you may not even notice you have prostate cancer but as it becomes more advanced you may experience problems such as:
Difficulty urinating
Slow or weak stream when urinating
Blood in the semen
Discomfort in the pelvic area
Bone pain
Erectile dysfunction

If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your healthcare provider for medical advice. Treatment may include surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy .

Testicular Cancer

Another cancer affecting men is testicular cancer. Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles (testes), which are housed inside the scrotum, a loose bag of skin underneath the penis. While much less common than prostate cancer, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 20 to 34 and this disease is increasingly more common over the last 40 years.

Risk factors for testicular cancer

Risk factors for this disease include the presence of other abnormalities such as the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum, decreased sperm production (which may present as infertility), family history of testicular cancer and certain types of testicular cancer are more common in taller men. This disease is also more common in Caucasian men than men of other races.

Signs you may have testicular cancer

Symptoms that you might have testicular cancer include:

• A lump or swelling in one of your testicles
• Swelling or a heavy feeling in the scrotum
• A dull ache in your groin
• Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
• Breast growth or tenderness
• Back pain

Cancer usually affects only one testicle.

If you detect any pain, swelling or lumps in your testicles or groin area, consult your doctor and especially if these symptoms last f, r more than two weeks. Treatment options include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.