This article aims to give the low-down on these two potentially life-threatening conditions and suggest ways of spotting potential problems and getting men away from the ‘head in the sand’ approach to their health.
While women seems to accept that regular breast screening and smear tests are a necessary fact of life, men in general still have a reluctance to get themselves checked over or indeed check themselves over. But come on fellas, do you really need an excuse to get playing with yourself?
Seriously though, testicular and prostate cancer can be killers, but the good news is they are nearly always curable provided they are spotted early enough.
So what is testicular cancer and what are the signs to look out for?
Testicular cancer affects the testes and is the most common cancer among young men between the ages of 19 and 44, so it’s certainly not something to be written off as a disease that will only affect you in later life. The chances of the average man developing testicular cancer is approximately one in 450.
The chances of the average man developing testicular cancer is approximately one in 450.
Several high profile characters such as Lance Armstrong — who made a full recovery and went on to win the Tour de France several times — have proved that being diagnosed with testicular cancer is most definitely not a death sentence.
Causes and prevention of testicular cancer
The causes of testicular cancer are unknown, although there is a suggestion that it may be hereditary, so if you have a close male relative who has had testicular cancer, then your chances of getting it are increased greatly, possibly by as much as 10 times. Also men who had an undescended or partly descended testicle are also considered five times more likely to develop testicular cancer.
Research suggests that getting off your backside and taking regular exercise may prevent testicular cancer from developing, but until more is known, the only real advice is to check your testicles regularly, so there’s an excuse to get playing with your balls!
Check your testicles at least once a month using your fingers and thumbs to look for any changes in shape, size, consistency and smoothness. If one testicle is larger or hangs lower than the other, don’t panic, that is quite common. Self-examination is best done after a bath or shower when the scrotum is relaxed.
Ignoring these checks is not an option, nor is ignoring anything that you find. If you discover anything unusual — such as any lumps, enlargement of the testes, feelings of pain or discomfort in the scrotum or groin — make sure you see your doctor. Try not to be embarrassed, after all, the doctor has seen it all before! They key to it all is regular checks and acting quickly on anything you (or maybe even your partner!) find.
So what is prostate cancer and what are the signs to look out for?
Unlike testicular cancer, which can affect young men, prostate cancer largely affects men over the age of 50. It is the most common form of cancer in men.
The causes of prostate cancer are not fully understood yet, but there is a school of thought that a high-fat, high-meat, low-vegetable diet can contribute greatly to the risks of developing the disease. Hereditary factors are also thought to play a part, so, anyone with a strong family history of prostate cancer is considered at greater risk.
Unlike testicular cancer, which can affect young men, prostate cancer largely affects men over the age of 50.
Prostate cancer often doesn't cause symptoms in its early stages, but common signs can include difficulty in urinating, a weak stream of urine, urinating more frequently, pain while urinating, blood in the urine, and pain or stiffness in the lower back, pelvis and hips. It’s fair to say that all these symptoms can be caused by other non-cancerous medical conditions, so don’t panic, but be sure to get checked out.
Preventing prostate cancer
There is no sure-fire way to prevent prostate cancer, but eating a healthy, low-fat diet may help, and the added bonus is many of the tips also help with preventing heart disease.
It’s a fact that prostate cancer rates are highest in countries where people tend to consume a lot of fat in their diets. A diet high in saturated fats (such as animal fats found in red meat) may pose the greatest risk, so minimize consumption of these and consume more omega-3 rich fish instead.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a lower risk of various kinds of cancer, so will certainly do no harm. Blueberries and tomatoes have been suggested to be particularly helpful in protecting against prostate cancer, as has green tea and cranberry juice, so be sure to include them in your diet.
A final word about testicular and prostate cancer
They say prevention is better than cure, but even someone with the best possible diet may not be able to avoid either testicular cancer or prostate cancer — that is often just down to the cards you're dealt. But what can be done is to eat healthily, look for the signs, carry out regular checks, and seek medical advice upon finding any potential problems. It’s is not really an option to ignore anything you find or any symptoms you notice, so do your manly duty — you owe it to yourself!