Testicular vs Prostate Cancer – What’s the Difference?
Prostate and testicular cancer affect different organs of the male reproductive system. All men, both young and old, can be at risk for these cancers. However, the good news is that both cancers can be successfully treated as long as it has been detected early and not spread to other parts of the body. Within this article, we will be taking a look at the differences in symptoms, growth and treatment options between these two cancers.
When compared to other types of cancer, testicular cancer is relatively rare and is highly treatable when diagnosed early. It occurs in the testicles (testes), which are located inside the scrotum – a loose bag of skin underneath the penis. Typically affecting men under 35, testicular cancer is often easier to identify through self-examination. The most commonly known symptom is an enlargement or a painless lump felt within a testicle.
Screening examinations are crucial to ensure early detection. If the disease remains unidentified, it can spread to other parts of the body, making the cancer more difficult to treat. It is recommended that all men examine their testicles monthly after puberty, and immediately seek professional advice if they find a lump in a testicle.
Testicular Cancer Treatment:
Treatments can vary in type and occurrence depending on what type of testicular cancer you have and what stage it is in. If the tumorous growth is thought to be cancerous, then the entire testicle will likely be removed. Upon removal, radiology, pathology and blood tests will help determine which treatments are required. Examples of potential treatments include chemotherapy, radiation and the removal of the lymph nodes that are situated at the back of your abdomen.
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Prostate cancer is more common and is known as one of the most diagnosed cancers in America. However, despite this, there is only a 3% risk of actually dying from the disease. It occurs in the prostate gland – the gland which produces the fluid the makes up semen. Tumours that grow here are often slow-growing, but due to their location, can be fairly hard to treat. Unfortunately, there are no early symptoms in early prostate cancer and many patients do not experience symptoms until the cancer has spread, thus iterating the importance of getting screened regularly. Whilst only a few die from the disease, it is still the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American males due to delays in diagnosis and treatments.
There are two main tests that are usually performed to detect this cancer: the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Unlike testicular cancer, prostate cancer predominantly affects men over 40. As such, the DRE should be conducted annually once you turn 40 years old. Although normally considered as embarrassing, this simple and quick procedure could potentially save your life. The PSA blood test should also be carried out once a year for men over 50. For those in high-risk groups (e.g. African-Americans or those with a family history of prostate problems), this test could be carried out at an earlier age.
Prostate Cancer Treatment:
If a positive DRE or PSA is found, your doctor may order a biopsy to determine if cancer is involved. Fortunately, prostate cancer is highly curable. In most cases, the best treatment is the destruction or complete removal of the prostate gland. For those at a very early stage of the disease, careful observation may be the best choice – especially for elderly men. However, for those who receive a late diagnosis, chemotherapy or hormonal medications are usually available.
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An Important Reminder:
Aside from being male, factors including your race, age and family history can contribute to increasing your risk of developing these diseases. As a result of this, it is absolutely essential that you get screened for both cancers on a regular basis. When it comes to discussing prostate and testicular cancer, it is important to keep an open dialogue with your doctor and not be embarrassed or ashamed to talk about these topics.
If any lumps, bumps or any other issues arise anywhere on your body, we highly encourage you to consult with a professional for closer examination. Here at First Derm, we offer a fast and secure service with online board-certified dermatologists ready to take a look at your skin concerns. Simply upload an image anonymously and we’ll get back to you within a matter of days!
About the author
My name is Rain Speake, a BSc Human Biology and MSc Healthcare Technology graduate from the University of Birmingham. I have an interest in skincare and dermatology and have previously undertaken research on the formulation of an anti-scarring spray for oral delivery. Beyond the lab, I enjoy keeping up to date with emerging scientific trends and communicating health-related topics to the public.
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