The two main male specific cancers are testicular and prostate cancer and this section will discuss both briefly. However, if you are concerned about either of these cancers you should consult your doctor or research information on a cancer specific website or call one of the many cancer based helplines.
Testicular cancer is a cancer which can affect all men and is most commonly found in the 15-35 years age range. If left untreated testicular cancer can be life threatening, therefore it is important to perform regular self examinations.
Why it is important to check your testicles?
It is important to regularly examine your testicles so that you are aware of what is normal for you and therefore, if there is a change you will become aware of it. Generally, cancers which are discovered early can be diagnosed and treated with greater success rates.
How often should you check your testicles?
Once a month is a good routine for checking your testicles, a good time to do this is after a warm bath or shower, when the scrotal skin is relaxed.
How to perform a testicular self examine
If you have never performed a testicular self examination, it is important to know that you must perform all parts of the examination gently, as otherwise you will cause yourself pain and/or discomfort!
Cup your scrotum in the palm of your hand, so that you can use your fingers and thumb to examine your testicles. Take notice of the weight and size of each testicle, it is common to have one testicle larger than the other and/or hang lower than the other. However, any noticeable increase in weight or size should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
Gently feel each individual testicle, you should feel a soft, flexible tube at the top and rear of the testicle. This tube is called the epididymis which carries sperm and it may feel slightly tender., do not confuse this with an abnormal lump. You should also be able to feel the firm, smooth tube of the spermatic cord which runs up from the epididymis.
Feel around the outside of the testicle itself. It should be smooth with no lumps or swellings. A lump can be as small as a pea and generally hard to the touch. It is unusual to develop cancer in both testicles at the same time, so if you are unsure as to whether what you are feeling is normal for you, you can compare it with the other testicle. However, any swelling or lump in your testicle should be checked by your doctor as soon as possible.
The video below shows you visually how to perform a testicular self examine and is taken from The Family GP website and features Dr. Chris Steele.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the chances of developing it increase as you get older. Most cases of prostate cancer develop in men aged 65 or older.
Although prostate cancer can affect all men, for reasons that are not yet understood, prostate cancer is more common in men who are of Afro-Caribbean or African descent and less common in men of Asian descent.
The outlook for early diagnosis and successful treatment of prostate cancer is generally good despite it being relatively challenging to treat. This is because, unlike many other cancers, prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly.
Unlike testicular cancer, there is no self examination for prostate cancer but it is important to go to your doctor for regular prostate checkups once you reach the age of 50 and to know the symptoms and if present consult your doctor.
It should be stressed that having the above symptoms does not mean you have prostate cancer. Many men’s prostates get larger as they get older due to a non-cancerous (benign) condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
The family GP website has a dedicated page to prostate cancer which can be found here.