Prostate and testicular cancer both relate to the male reproductive system. While some people may confuse them, they are separate conditions that have different risk factors, symptoms, and outcomes.
The testicles and the prostate gland are organs that comprise the male reproductive system. They have different roles and functions, but both contribute to the production of hormones and semen. As a result, some people may refer to these cancers as male cancers, but they can occur in anyone with the organs. Not only do they occur in different sexual organs, but both cancers also have different risk factors, symptoms, and prevalence.
In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between prostate and testicular cancer.
Prostate cancer occurs when genetic changes cause cancerous cells to grow in the
The prostate produces
Testicular cancer occurs when cancerous cells develop in the
The testicles are
Prostate and testicular cancer both start in male reproductive organs that share similar functions. For example, the prostate and testicles are central to semen production. The testicles also produce testosterone, which influences prostate functioning.
Prostate cancer is much more common than testicular cancer. The
Prostate cancer also causes around
All forms of cancer are
- a family history of either cancer
- African American ethnicity
- living in North America or Europe
There are also some similarities in the treatment options for these cancers. For example, doctors may suggest watchful waiting or active surveillance as a treatment option for
Men who have either cancer without symptoms or other medical problems may not require treatment. This can be a good option to avoid the risks and side effects of cancer treatments. However, doctors may suggest intervening if the condition worsens.
Surgery is the main treatment for testicular cancer, which typically involves removing the testicles. Surgery is also an option for people with prostate cancer when the tumor has not spread and the person is in good health. Other treatment options for these conditions can include radiation therapy or chemotherapy. These are useful approaches for cancers that have spread beyond their original location.
There are several differences between prostate and testicular cancer, despite both starting in the male reproductive system. For example, prostate cancer is
An undescended testicle is one of the main
- HIV infection
- being tall
- carcinoma in situ of the testicle
Scientists have identified
The main symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump in the testicles. Other symptoms include:
- swelling of the testicles
- feeling of a weight in the scrotum
- pain or ache in the testicles, scrotum, or groin
- tenderness of the breast tissue
The symptoms of prostate cancer largely affect urinary habits and
- weak urine flow
- frequent and urgent need for urination
- waking up to urinate multiple times during the night
- difficulty emptying the bladder
- pain or burning while urinating or ejaculating
- blood in the urine or semen
- signs of anemia, such as pale skin
- pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
While a doctor can perform a physical exam to help diagnose both conditions, testicular cancer is easier to identify through self-examination than prostate cancer because it is simpler to access the testes, where the cancer typically causes detectable lumps.
Blood tests for both cancers also check for different substances. For
Both cancers can be deadly without treatment. However, testicular cancer is highly treatable and has a lower risk of death. The
Prostate cancer is the
Men can perform self-examinations to identify testicular cancer. A doctor may recommend performing a testicular self-exam after a bath or shower by:
- checking each testicle for lumps using the thumb and fingers to gently roll each testicle
- finding the tube-like structures that connect to the testicles and check for anything unusual
- looking for any lumps or swollen areas, even if they cause no pain
A person should contact a doctor if they notice anything unusual on their testicles.
It is difficult to identify prostate cancer through self-examination because physical changes are hard to detect without a doctor or nurse.
There are currently
- digital rectal examinations, where a doctor or nurse inserts a finger in the rectum to check for lumps
- PSA tests, which measure the amount of PSA in the blood
- genetic tests that identify certain genes. These are still undergoing clinical trials
It is not always possible to prevent prostate or testicular cancer. However, the
- keeping a healthy body weight
- regularly exercising
- following a healthy diet
- avoiding smoking
- taking 5-alpha reductase inhibitors
- taking aspirin
However, medical professionals know much less about factors that can prevent testicular cancer. The
Prostate and testicular cancer affect different organs of the male reproductive system. They have some similar risk factors and treatments but also many differences. Prostate cancer typically affects men over 40 and is common, while testicular cancer typically affects men under 35 and is rare.
Testicular cancer is often easier to identify through self-examination and is highly treatable at all stages. Prostate cancer is also highly treatable but is still the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American males due to delays in diagnosis and treatments.