June is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, but we’re taking the opportunity to shed some light on the other men-only cancers so you can be aware of the symptoms, risk factors and treatment.
There are three cancers that only affect men – testicular, prostate and penile.
Testicular cancer is more common in young to middle-aged men. Testicular cancer starts as an abnormal growth or tumour that develops in one or both testicles. There are two main types of this cancer – seminoma and non-seminoma. There are minor differences between the two but the tumours are treated in similar ways.
The most common symptom is a lump in a testicle, but there may be other symptoms:
- Swelling or a lump which is usually painless, occasionally the swelling may suddenly increase in size and become painful.
- A dull ache or pain, or heaviness in the scrotum.
If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body there may be more symptoms:
- Pain in the back or lower abdomen.
- A cough, breathlessness or difficulty swallowing.
- Nipple/breast tenderness or swelling – this is rare but can be caused by hormones produced by the cancer.
Treatment for testicular cancer is very effective and nearly all men are cured.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. Over 41,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. It usually affects men over 50 and is rare in younger men. It differs from most other cancers in the body because there can be small areas of cancer within the prostate.
Cancer of the prostate is often slow-growing and symptoms may not occur for many years but can be some or all of the following:
- Difficulty passing urine.
- Passing urine more frequently than usual.
- The feeling of not emptying your bladder.
- Needing to rush to the loo to pass urine.
- Blood in the urine or semen (this is a very uncommon symptom).
These symptoms only occur when the cancer is large enough to put pressure on the urethra. There is also a benign condition which causes the prostate to swell.
The type of prostate cancer you have – whether it’s early, locally-advanced or advanced – will affect the style of your treatment which could be surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy or a combination of these.
- Early (localised prostate cancer – the cancer has not spread outside of the prostate.
- Locally-advanced prostate cancer – the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues of the prostate gland.
- Advanced prostate cancer – the cancer has spread beyond the prostate.
Cancer of the penis is uncommon, but when it does occur it affects men aged over 65. The most common type is squamous cell cancer and symptoms include:
- A thickening or change in the colour of your skin.
- A flat growth or sore on the penis.
- Discharge or bleeding from the growth or sore.
It’s worth bearing in mind that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, but it is best to get them checked by your GP.
Small, early cancers are sometimes treated with chemotherapy cream. Or you may be offered minor surgery or treatments that use heat or cold to destroy the cancer. Large cancers may need surgery to remove them. You may have radiotherapy instead of, or after, surgery. Chemotherapy is sometimes given before or after surgery, or if the cancer has spread.