Men tend to go to the doctor less often than women. They might go when they are in serious pain, but they are not as likely to visit a doctor for routine checkups, or for what they perceive as minor problems. In fact, a lot of men won’t go to the doctor at all unless they have someone in their lives pushing them to go. While this “grin and bear it” mentality is admirable in many other aspects of life, when it comes to your health it is potentially harmful.
There are several diseases where early detection can greatly improve your treatment options, your quality of life, and your chance of survival. The three major male cancers fall into this category.
Get Checked for These Male Cancers
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. The American Cancer Society estimates 233,000 new cases in 2014, and the number continues to grow each year. Prostate cancer tends to occur in men over 40, but it is possible for younger men to develop the disease.
The good news is, with early detection and treatment, the disease has an almost 98 percent survival rate. However, that rate drops dramatically if the disease is detected after it is in the advanced stages. This is why regular prostate screening is crucial.
African-American men are at greater risk for the disease, as are men with a family history of prostate cancer.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Urinary problems – difficulty starting or stopping, weak flow, pain or burning, blood in the urine, and frequent urination
- Pain during ejaculation
- Blood in the semen
- Persistent pain in your lower back, hips, or thighs
Prostate cancer grows very slowly and it can take years to develop symptoms. Your doctor can detect early stages of prostate cancer with a routine blood test that detects a substance called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and by an internal examination of your prostate.
Testicular cancer is not as prevalent as prostate cancer, but there are still between 7,500 and 8,000 diagnoses in the United States per year. The disease is most common in men between the ages of 20 and 40, and is rarely seen in males below age 15.
The good news is that testicular cancer has one of the highest cure rates, almost 100 percent in early-detected cases. Even in later stages, the cure rate could be as high as 80 percent with proper treatment.
Testicular cancer may have no symptoms, but if you do have symptoms they could include:
- A lump or a feeling of heaviness in your testicles
- A change in the size or shape of your testicles
- Breast tenderness
- Stomach or back pain
Your doctor can detect testicular cancer with a routine blood test, and with imaging scans like an ultrasound or CT scan.
Other Hormone-Related Cancers
Male Breast Cancer
While not a male cancer, per se, breast cancer can affect men and it is often linked to your sex hormones. Men do have small amounts of breast tissue, right behind the nipples, and approximately 100 men in the U.S. develop breast cancer each year.
The survival rates for breast cancer in men are similar to those for women, and early detection is key.
Symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump near or behind the nipple
- Swollen glands or pain under your arm
- Breast tenderness
Because people don’t usually think of breast cancer in men, alert your doctor immediately if you experience any, or all, of the above symptoms. Your doctor can detect breast cancer with a biopsy of the lump, or of the glandular tissue under your arm; and ultrasound or mammogram; and a physical examination of your chest.