Part of a monthly series of health columns from the Nashoba Valley Medical Center.

The major health risks for all men include both prostate cancer and testicular cancer. The good news is that both cancers have high cure rates and can be successfully treated, as long as the cancer is detected early and has not spread to other parts of the body.

"Every man, young and old, needs to be aware of the risks associated with each disease, and that prostate cancer and testicular cancer occur in different parts of the body, and affect men of different ages and races in varying numbers," said Sanjay Basu, MD, a primary care physician with Nashoba Valley Medical Center. "Typically, older men over the age of 65 are affected by prostate cancer while testicular cancer is most common among young men, 15 to 35 years old."

Even though prostate cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers in America, on average men have only a three percent risk of actually dying from the disease. Prostate cancer occurs in the prostate gland, the gland that produces the fluid that makes up semen. Tumors are often slow-growing and highly treatable. However, patients sometimes experience no symptoms until the cancer has spread. Thus, early detection by a doctor is important.

Treatments for prostate cancer include: chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

It's important for men to have their prostate checked.


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The American Urological Association recommends you discuss the benefits and limitations of these tests with your doctor: a digital rectal exam (DRE); a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test; or the ExoDx urine test.

If you have a positive DRE or PSA, your doctor may order a biopsy to determine if cancer is involved

Compared with other types of cancer, testicular cancer is rare and also highly treatable. Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles (testes), which are located inside the scrotum, a loose bag of skin underneath the penis. The testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump on or in a testicle.

Screening tests are very important in the early detection of the disease. Screenings include having a health provider check a man's testicles during a routine physical exam, and self-exams at home. It is recommended that all men examine their testicles monthly after puberty, and immediately see a doctor if they find a lump in a testicle.

When it comes to discussing prostate cancer and testicular cancer, it is important to keep an open dialog with your doctor and not to be embarrassed to talk about these topics. To schedule an appointment with a Nashoba Valley Medical Center primary care physician, call 978-784-9990.