Male Reproductive Cancers

Cancers of the Male Reproductive System

Male reproductive cancers start in the organs related to sexual function and conception. The most common reproductive cancers that affect men are prostate cancer, penile cancer, and testicular cancer. Also, a small percentage of the adult male population develops male breast cancer. Cancers of the male reproductive system affect men as young as 15 years old, but most of these diseases are more common among men older than age 40 years. Additionally, many lifestyle factors increase the risk of male reproductive cancers. Some surgical procedures for control of male reproductive cancer will result in sterility as a result of the removal of necessary organs and structures. Radiation therapy also can cause infertility due to primary testicular damage or indirect testicular failure. Sperm forming cells are often adversely affected by chemotherapy medications. The total dose of the drug is often a determinant for potential sperm damage.

Prostate Cancer

The second most commonly occurring cancer among men is prostate cancer. It is also the leading cause of cancer-related mortality for American men. In the U.S. alone, there are around 200,000 new cases diagnosed each year, with approximately 27,000 annual deaths.

Causes and Risk Factors

While the exact cause of prostate cancer is poorly understood, there are two types of tumors that lead to malignancy. The latent form affects around 30 percent of men in their 50s and around 70 percent of men in their 80s. When prostate cancer is invasive, it will metastasize to other body organs. Risk factors for prostate cancer include advancing age, family history, eating a high-fat diet, residing in an urban area, working in textile, rubber, or fertilizer industries, and working with cadmium batteries. Prostate cancer also affects African American men more often than other cultural and ethnic groups.

Signs and Symptoms

The majority of men who develop prostate cancer do not have any symptoms. Detection depends on measurement of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal examination. To confirm diagnosis, the doctor must perform transrectal ultrasound and biopsy.

Treatment

Prostate cancer requires surgical measures. One procedure is cryosurgical ablation, which involves insertion of cryoprobes into the gland to destroy cancerous cells and tissue. Another common procedure is radical prostatectomy, where the entire prostate gland is removed along with other reproductive structures. Other treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormonal deprivation therapy.

Testicular Cancer

The most common solid tumor cancer among young men is testicular cancer. This malignancy does not usually affect males younger than 15 years old or those older than 40 years. Caucasian and Hispanic males are two times as likely to develop this form of cancer, and it occurs more frequently in high socioeconomic groups.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of testicular cancer is poorly understood. There are many risk factors that are associated with the disease, such as exogenous estrogen, cryptorchidism, and family history. The male children of women who used diethylstilbestrol (DES) during the first three months of pregnancy are also at an increased risk for testicular cancer. Most testicular tumors are embryonal carcinomas and seminomas.

Signs and Symptoms

The main symptom of testicular cancer is a painless enlargement of one testicle. Some men also experience a heavy or dragging sensation of the testicle. When the cancer metastasizes to the lymph nodes, it causes back pain, abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, changes in bowel and/or bladder habits, weight loss, and loss of appetite. To diagnose testicular cancer, the doctor will perform several tests, such as ultrasonography, CT scans, and biopsy.

Treatment

The treatment of testicular cancer is a radical orchiectomy and/or retroperitoneal lymph node dissection when lymph nodes are affected. After the surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy is done in some cases.

Penile Cancer

Cancer of the penis is rare, with less than 1,300 cases diagnosed annually in America. This form of cancer is more common among men who are uncircumcised and of advancing age, particularly those over the age of 65 years.

Causes and Risk Factors

Penile cancer is caused by chronic irritation and poor hygiene practices. It is also associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Risk factors for penile cancer include having a sex partner with HIV or AIDS, phimosis, and smoking cigarettes. For preservation of the penis, early detection is necessary.

Signs and Symptoms

Cancer of the penis causes wart-like, painless, and dry growths on the foreskin or penis. Late in the disease, ulcerations develop, and the cancer can spread to inguinal lymph nodes, resulting in node enlargement. To diagnose penile cancer, the doctor will take a history, conduct a physical examination, and do biopsies of the lesions and growths.

Treatment

Penile cancer treatment involves removal of the lesions and growths as well as circumcision. Penile shaft resection or penectomy (removal of the penis) is only done with extensive disease.

Male Breast Cancer

Male breast cancer is rare, occurring mostly in older men. If male breast cancer is diagnosed in an early stage, the chance of cure and survival is good. Many men do not seek treatment for the condition, however, and it is often not diagnosed until it is in the advanced stages.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of male breast cancer include a painless lump or area of thickening on the pectoral region, changes to the skin covering the breast, such as redness, dimpling, or scaling, discharge from the nipple, or changes of the nipple, such as turning inward. Diagnosis is made by a mammogram, ultrasound, and fine needle biopsy.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of male breast cancer is not known, but experts believe that some breast cells divide more rapidly than others, causing an accumulation of cells that form a tumor. Some breast cancers begin in the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma), and other forms begin in the milk-producing glands (lobules). Risk factors for male breast cancer include older age (between 60 to 70 years), exposure to estrogen-related medications, family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition, obesity, radiation exposure, Klinefeltner's syndrome, and liver disease.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to remove the tumor or growth and the surrounding tissues. Surgical procedures often include removal of the surrounding lymph nodes. Additional treatment includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.

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