Male Cancer Screening
Understanding the Importance of Male Cancer Screening
While cancer is one of the leading causes of death throughout the world, there are some types of cancer that only affect men. Prostate and testicular cancer affect only men. It’s important to undergo regular screening for both types of cancer. These are a few things to know about both types of cancer.
Prostate cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and tends to affect older men between the ages of 50-70. There are no standard guidelines to screen for this type of cancer though.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Although men may not experience symptoms until this type of cancer has progressed, there are a few common indicators to watch for:
- Increased urgency of urination
- Difficulty with urination
- Difficulty stopping and starting to urinate
- Urine flow that is weak or interrupted
- Blood in urine or semen
- Painful ejaculation
- Difficulty maintaining an erection
If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important for you to reach out to your doctor to get it checked as early as possible.
When you have an annual physical check, your physician will assess your risk of developing this type of cancer in addition to other health risks. There are two areas that your doctor will assess:
- Family history: If you have family members who have had prostate cancer, you are at higher risk.
- Rectal exam: Your physician will perform a rectal exam to assess if there are any abnormal lumps over the wall of the prostate. Depending on the results of this basic assessment, there may be additional tests recommended.
Prostate Cancer Screening
It’s important to be regularly screened for prostate cancer and this testing is fairly simple. A non-fasting tumor marker blood test is helpful when screening for prostate cancer. There may also be an imaging scan depending on your profile, risk factors, symptoms, and any other findings that are concerning.
When it comes to prostate cancer, early detection is critical as the 5-year survival rate for early stage prostate cancer is more than 95%. The goal of screening is to find cancers that are at high risk of spreading and to treat them before they are advanced. Find out more here
Unlike prostate cancer, testicular cancer is more common in younger men between the ages of 20-40. The testes are the organs responsible for producing testosterone hormone and this type of cancer makes up 1-2% of the cancers in men. There are two types of testicular cancers:
- Seminomas testicular cancer
- Non-seminomas testicular cancer
Additionally, there are also two types of less common testicular cancers:
- Leydig cell testicular cancer
- Sertoli cell testicular cancer
Causes and Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
The cause of testicular cancer is not well known although there are risk factors to understand. Men with a family history of testicular cancer or undescended testis, or have a history of testicular cancer or undescended testis, are at higher risk.
The most common symptom for this cancer is a lump or swelling over the testes. However, there may be other symptoms such as:
- Asymmetrical testicular appearance
- Testicle differences in thickness and firmness
- Pain over testicle
- Feeling of heaviness
If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important for you to reach out to a healthcare provider to get it checked as early as possible.
Testicular Cancer Screening
For anyone who is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to be screened early. You can have imaging investigations such as ultrasound of the area. There are also blood tests that can be used to test for tumor markers. The good news is that with this type of cancer, early detection is essential as it can lead to a curative rate of 95%.
Male Cancer Screening
Now that you have an idea of cancers that affect only men, it’s important to be vigilant in this area. Cancers that are diagnosed when they have advanced are more difficult to treat — so early detection is important. Even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, undergoing screening is a good way to ensure that you’re in the best of health.
If you have any risk factors for these types of cancer, make it a priority to undergo testicular or prostate cancer screening. The good news is that these screening tests are fairly easy to perform and can be done in a short time.
Since these types of cancer can go undetected for years, make sure to have the screening performed even without any of the typical risk factors. Not only will this give you peace of mind, you’ll also be more likely to detect any health problem.
Will smoking and drinking regularly cause me to have cancer?
Currently, as it stands, there is no direct link between drinking alcohol and increased risk of prostate cancer.
Cigarette smoking may increase the risk of prostate cancer through exposure to carcinogens. And studies have shown that nearly 20% of cigarette smokers are more likely to develop prostate cancer in comparison to non-cigarette smokers. Not starting or quitting smoking can, therefore, help minimize your risk of getting advanced prostate cancer.
Will obesity increase my risk of developing prostate cancer?
Studies have shown that obese men have a higher risk of developing severe prostate cancer. Treatment outcomes are equally poorer, a significant factor that leads to prostate cancer deaths. High fat intake is also associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer and its subsequent progression to advanced stages.
Animal studies revealed that there was a relatively lower prostate cancer growth rate when fed with a low-fat diet. Animal fat has the highest risk compared to their polyunsaturated fats. This implies that you should reduce your intake of animal-generated fats to boost your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Bacon and sausages are a few examples of foods that you should not consume regularly because they are high in animal fat.
What type of food should I consume to reduce my risk of prostate cancer?
Consuming lots of fruits and vegetables can potentially reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. There are evidence to show that spring onions and garlic might help to boost a person’s immune system, helping to lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Also, there is limited evidence showing that green tea, lycopene, pomegranate, and soy products can lower prostate cancer risk. As a result, incorporating food products such as green tea, processed or cooked tomatoes, watermelons, guavas into your daily diet can be a wise decision because they are not harmful to our bodies.
Are there any physical signs that I should be worried about?
- Blood-stained urine
- Swelling or presence of a lump in your scrotum
- Frequent urination
- The weak or interrupted flow of urine as well as the need to strain to empty the bladder
- Presence of blood in the seminal fluid
- Back pain tends to worsen at night
- Pain or discomfort when sitting, usually caused by an enlarged prostate
- The urge to frequently urinate at night
- New onset of erectile dysfunction
However, it is imperative to note that other noncancerous health conditions of the prostate such as an enlarged prostate, or BPH can equally lead to similar symptoms.
Around what age should I start worrying about getting prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is currently the third most common cancer among Singaporean men, after colorectal and lung cancer. In the last few decades, there has been an increasing incidence rate of prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer mostly affects somewhat older men and its incidence increases significantly with age of above 50 years.
Studies have shown that at least half of the men who are diagnosed with testicular cancer are between ages 20 and 45. Regardless, it is crucial to note that men of any age can develop prostate cancer, just like any other disease. This implies that if you see any of the prostate cancer-related symptoms listed earlier, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
How can I examine myself for testicular cancer?
Testicular self-exam: To carry out this test, hold your testicles between your thumbs and fingers using both hands and roll it gently between the fingers. Look and feel for any signs of hard lumps or nodules or any notable change in the shape, size, or consistency of your testicles.