B reast cancer may attract a lot of awareness, but there are cancers exclusive to men that warrant attention, too.Jeff ry Huff man, M.D., a urologist on the medical staff at Memorial Hospital, outlines several male-only cancers, and off ers advice on how to catch them in their earliest, most treatable stages.
From the teen years on, Dr. Huff man recommends that men do self-exams for testicular cancer. “Just like women with self-exams of the breast, men need to examine their testicles, looking for lumps or bumps,” he says. Survival rates for testicular cancer are very high, especially when it’s diagnosed early. And even when testicular cancer is advanced, treatment can be eff ective. The poster child for testicular cancer, Lance Armstrong, saw his cancer spread into his brain, yet doctors were able to successfully treat it.
Dr. Huff man also points out that men of any age should watch for red, tea-colored or brown urine, which could signal blood in the urine. Blood could signal a range of problems, including prostate or bladder infection or prostate, bladder or kidney cancer.
Older men who have trouble urinating need to be checked for prostate cancer. Dr. Huff man recommends a baseline prostate screening—including a digital rectal exam and PSA blood test—at age 40, and annual exams beginning at age 50, unless your doctor advises earlier or more frequent testing based on your reading and risk factors. He notes that increases in PSA readings over time can be warning signs, even if your reading is still within the normal range. “If your level is in the normal range, but it goes up signifi cantly from one year to the next, that could be a signal for cancer of prostate,” he says.
Early detection and improved treatment options mean men with prostate cancer can get past the disease with less risk of the urinary and sexual side eff ects that often used to accompany treatment.
Uncircumcised men—which includes a high proportion of the immigrant population—are at higher risk for penile cancer. Men who notice lumps, or discharge, sores or bleeding from the penis, should bring their concerns to their doctor. Doctors can treat penile cancer with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Men who are at increased risk for any of these health problems need to make sure their doctors know about their risk factors, so they can plan screenings appropriately. Smoking and chewing tobacco increase your risk for bladder cancer, and having a father or brother with prostate cancer increases your risk, particularly if your relative was younger than 60 when he was diagnosed. African-American men are also more likely to develop prostate cancer.
By watching for symptoms and keeping your doctor up-to-date on your conditions and history, you’ll be taking the right steps for your health.
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