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Cancer in men: symptoms, causes and treatment
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Cancer in men: symptoms, causes and treatment

Testicular cancer, prostate cancer and penile cancer can affect men's health. They pose unique challenges and can give rise to concerns related to sexual health, fertility and impotence

Testicular cancer, prostate cancer and penile cancer are the three kinds of cancer that affect men alone. These cancers mostly affect the genital area and raise various concerns about sexual health, fertility and impotency.

“In all of these cancers, symptoms play a crucial role. Detecting these symptoms and diagnosing them can avoid cancer from getting severe and on-time treatment can be provided,” says Dr Sujith Kumar Mullapaly, consultant medical oncology (urology), Apollo Proton Cancer Centre, Bengaluru.

Types of cancer in men – symptoms and causes

Testicular cancer

If an individual approaches a doctor with a mass in the scrotal or testicular region, it could indicate testicular cancer.

“Testicular cancer does not have risk factors such as smoking or alcohol; it could be chromosomal damage or abnormalities in some cases that lead to testicular cancer,” says Dr R Srivathsan, consultant urology, uro-oncology and robotic surgery, Apollo Proton Cancer Center, Chennai.

Early treatment may involve partial removal of the testis. The testes are responsible for the production of sperm and testosterone. Partial removal (when one testis is removed) of the testes will ensure that fertility is maintained. But treatments like chemotherapy could affect the quality of sperm and even change the structure of the sperm. Hence, doctors advise people to store sperm in a sperm bank before starting chemotherapy.

Penile cancer

Penile cancer is a rare condition when cells grow out of control in the penis.

The risk factors for penile cancer include unhealthy sexual practices (sexual hygiene is not maintained), multiple sexual partners and human papillomaviral (HPV) infection, says Dr Mullapaly.

If penile cancer is detected early, doctors could advise a partial removal of the affected area. In certain cases, if the entire penis is affected, complete removal of the penis is undertaken. In cases where sexual intercourse cannot happen because of the surgical removal of the penis, the sperm is stored before the surgery in the sperm bank. Later through IVF (invitro fertilisation), the couple can have a family.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland. The most important function of the prostate gland is the production of seminal fluid – a major part of semen.

Prostate cancer might not present with symptoms in the early stages, and hence, it is known as ‘silent cancer’. In the advanced stages, there could be difficulty passing urine and blood in the urine or sperm.

A prostate-specific antigen test (PSA test), a blood test, is primarily used to screen for prostate cancer. If the PSA levels are extremely high, doctors could advise a biopsy.

“In penile and testicular cancer, the growth rate is rapid, the tumour mass grows in size aggressively, unlike in prostate cancer,” says Dr Shreyas Nagaraj, uro oncologist, andrologist and renal transplant surgeon, Cytecare Cancer Center, Bengaluru.

“Prostate cancer has a genetic cause. Often, prostate cancer is seen in individuals with a family history,” adds Dr Nagaraj.

 Can children genetically inherit these cancers?

  • Children do not genetically inherit penile and testicular cancer.
  • The risk of inheritance of prostate cancer is high in first-degree relatives, meaning the risk is the same for the person’s brother and son. Genetic testing can be carried out as recommended by doctors before planning for a child, explains Dr Nagaraj.

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