Prostate and testicular cancer care
Allina Health offers a complete range of holistic care aimed at preventing, detecting and treating cancers of the prostate and testicles.
What it is
Both prostate and testicular cancers are found in the male reproductive system. There are different symptoms and risk factors for each type of cancer.
Prostate cancer is cancer that starts in the prostate gland, which is the small, walnut-shaped structure located between the bladder and the penis and is part of a man’s reproductive system. It’s the most common form of cancer in men; more than 192,000 cases are diagnosed each year and most often impacts men over age 60. It is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer.
By age 50, about half of all men have small changes in the size and shape of the cells in the prostate. This is called prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) and can be a precursor to cancer. If PIN is present, the best strategy is to have a biopsy done to check for cancer. If PIN is the only finding, then careful follow-up screening with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE) is recommended
Testicular cancer starts in the testicles, which are male sex glands that produce and store sperm. This type of cancer usually impacts young men, with an average diagnosis of age of 33.
There are two basic types of testicular cancer, germ cell and stromal tumors, each with subtypes:
- Germ cell tumors occur in the cells that produce sperm. Tumor types include:
- Seminomas, which is the most common type, accounting for half of testicular cancer cases. This cancer is generally slow growing and responsive to treatment.
- Nonseminomas tend to grow and spread faster than seminomas.
- Stromal tumors occur in the testicular tissue where hormones are produced. Stromal tumor types include:
- Leydig cell tumors, which occur in cells that produce male sex hormones
- Sertoli cell tumors, which occur in cells that nourish germ cells
Good to know
Prostate cancer risk factors include:
- age of 55 or older: This is the most important risk factor. Most men who develop prostate cancer are older than 50. About two of every three prostate cancers are diagnosed in men older than 65.
- family history: risk is higher when other members of your family (especially father, brother, son) have or had prostate cancer, especially if they were young when they developed it.
- race: African-American men have nearly double the risk of prostate cancer as white men. It is found less often in Asian American, Hispanic and American Indian men.
- diet: a high-fat diet, particularly a diet high in animal fats, may increase risk; diets high in fruits and vegetables may decrease risk.
- nationality: prostate cancer is more prevalent in North America and northwestern Europe than other parts of the world.
- some research suggests that inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) may play a role in prostate cancer. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are being investigated as possible risk factors as well.
Prostate cancer symptoms can include:
- a need to urinate often, especially at night
- difficulty starting urination or holding back urine (urinary hesitancy)
- inability to urinate
- weak or interrupted flow of urine
- painful or burning urination
- difficulty in having an erection (erection problems)
- painful ejaculation
- blood in urine or semen
- frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
- trouble emptying the bladder completely
Testicular cancer risk factors
Most men with testicular cancer do not have risk factors, but there are a few, including:
- age: Most cases occur between the ages of 15 and 40.
- race: White men are five to 10 times more likely to develop testicular cancer than men of other races.
- family or personal history of testicular cancer.
- undescended testicle (cryptorchidism): Men with testicles that did not move down into the scrotum before birth are at increased risk. Men who had surgery to correct this condition are still at high risk of testicular cancer.
- abnormal testicular development.
- Klinefelter's syndrome: A sex chromosome disorder characterized by low levels of male hormones, sterility, breast enlargement and small testes.
- previous treatment for testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer symptoms can vary and may include:
- a painless hard lump or swelling in a testicle
- pain, discomfort or numbness in a testicle or scrotum
- feeling of heaviness in a testicle or scrotum
- dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin
- change in consistency of the testicles
- sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- breast growth or loss of sexual desire in boys, growth of facial and body hair at an abnormally young age
Good for treating
Prostate cancer diagnosis
- digital rectal exam (DRE)
- prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
Testicular cancer diagnosis
If you have symptoms that may indicate testicular cancer, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your health, lifestyle and family history. One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have testicular cancer:
- blood tests that can detect specific protein markers
If you are diagnosed with prostate or testicular cancer, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including:
- Your age and general health
- Stage and grade of cancer
- Whether the cancer has spread
- Side effects of treatment
Treatment for prostate and testicular cancer can include:
Together, you and your health care team will create an individualized plan based on your health, your cancer stage and your needs.
Good for preventing
Prostate cancer prevention
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and eat less red meat. Decrease fat intake.
- Tell your doctor about supplements you take. Some of these may decrease the PSA level. A recent large study found that selenium and vitamin E, once thought to decrease risk of prostate cancer, have no effect.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain your ideal weight.
Testicular cancer prevention
Most men with testicular cancer have no risk factors, and many of the identified risk factors (age, undescended testes) can't be changed. Thus there is very little that can be done to prevent testicular cancer. What you can do is perform routine testicular self-examinations to detect any changes early. The earlier testicular cancer is found, the better the treatment options and the results.
Source: Allina Health Cancer Care
Reviewed by: Allina Health Cancer Care
First published: 6/6/2019
Last reviewed: 6/6/2019