December 4, 2018
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Mark Perlmutter, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cancer Care, Men's Health.
For many of us who are trying to strike the perfect balance each day between priorities – like our families and careers – it can often feel difficult to find time for it all. One area, however, that we should always remember to make a priority is our health.
It’s important to take our health seriously, whether that means being proactive about visiting the doctor, giving ourselves relevant self-exams, or simply educating ourselves on the health topics that directly affect us. For the men out there, two types of cancers – prostate and testicular – are ones that can directly affect us, yet many of us might not know much about them.
Here are seven things you need to know about prostate and testicular cancers:
- The older you get, the more likely you are to get prostate cancer. Age is one of the primary risk factors for prostate cancer – the odds of you developing prostate cancer increases as you get older. Prostate cancer is most often found in men in their 60s.
- Men should begin regular screenings for prostate cancer at the age of 50. Because prostate cancer usually affects men in their 60s, it’s important to begin screening ahead of then. The screening is a combination of a simple blood test and a digital rectal exam. These screenings can be done annually and can be done by either your primary care doctor or urologist. Men who are at an increased risk of prostate cancer should begin screenings at age 40. Known risk factors include: African American decent; family history of prostate cancer; family history of advanced pancreatic, ovarian or breast cancers (especially if BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are positive).
- Prostate tumors tend to grow slowly. Many times, a prostate tumor will grow slowly. While some prostate cancers can spread throughout the body, many tumors do not. Most men only need localized treatment to the prostate. Some patients can even be appropriately followed with active surveillance. However, any personal treatment plan should be discussed at length with your urologist. Those who are proactive in seeing their doctor are often diagnosed at the very early stages, prior to spreading.
- The average age of diagnosis for testicular cancer is about 33 years old. Regular self-exams are important in proactively screening for testicular cancer. In the medical community, we recommend men as young as 15 begin to perform a self-exam once a month. You should be mindful of any lump or mass. If you feel something abnormal, make an appointment with your doctor.
- If detected early enough, testicular cancer can often be treated fairly easily. The treatment will often involve removing the affected testicle. Even when advanced, the treatments for testicular cancer have an extremely high long-term cure rate.
- The incidence rate of testicular cancer is increasing. According to the American Cancer Society, this is true for the U.S. and many other countries over the past few decades.
- A mass does not always mean cancer. As with other cancers, just because there is a lump or a mass that’s found doesn’t mean that it will be cancerous. Let’s say – for example – that you’ve done a testicular self-exam and you find a lump. It is quite possible the lump is a benign cyst, which would not require any treatment. Before you get overwhelmed and nervous, make it a point to visit your doctor for examination and testing.
Mark Perlmutter, M.D. is the medical director of Urologic Oncology for Hackensack Meridian Health Cancer Care in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. He practices at Howard, Leitner & Perlmutter Urological Associates. To speak to someone at Hackensack Meridian Health about cancer services, call 732-776-4240.
To learn more online about Hackensack Meridian Health’s cancer care services, visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org/learnmore.
- American Cancer Society
The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.