These are some of the most common kinds of cancer, however, many can be detected quite early, which greatly increases the possibility of recovery. Here are some tips for detecting urologic cancer early.
Bladder cancer – Nearly all bladder cancers grow in the membrane that surrounds the organ (the urothelium). This is known as a non-muscle invasive tumour. Invasive tumours are those that has spread into layers of the bladder wall.
Prostate cancer – Prostate cancers are usually slow growing, and are not life-threatening, but some are more aggressive and can spread to other organs, which can shorten lifespan. If the cancer cells have grown but remain within the prostate, this is known as localised prostate cancer. This can be treated with good success rates. If the cancer has grown and spread outside the prostate into the neighbouring organs such as the seminal vesicle or bladder, this is known as locally advanced prostate cancer, and is harder to treat.
Kidney cancer – Usually cancer occurs in just one kidney, but in rare cases, can occur in both. Cancer cells in the kidney can spread by breaking away from localised tumours to nearby parts of the body such as the neighbouring lymph nodes, as wells as the adrenal glands, lungs, bones and liver, which can be more serious.
Testicular cancer – Most cancers of the testicle develop in the cells that create sperm – these are called germ cells. Others develop in the hormone-producing tissue of the testicles called the stroma. Cancerous cells can also spread to the testicles from other organs.
While the exact cause of cancer is unknown, there are somethings you can do to detect it early and therefore drastically reduce its impact.
Getting yourself screened regularly is the most effective way to detect cancer early. Many factors that contribute to cancer developing are out of your control, so catching it early before it spreads is the best way to combat it.
This is particularly pertinent for prostate cancer, which is very common in older males. It is suggested that healthy men over the age of 50 have a PSA test at least every two years. If you are at higher risk, this should be more regular. For men under the age of 50, talk with your doctor about whether you should have an exam.
This is only relevant to testicular cancer, but it is still very important. Testicular cancer is very treatable is detected early. And the best way to detect it as early as possible is to test yourself every few months at home. Here’s how to do perform a self-examination:
It is best to do this after a warm bath or shower, when the skin of the scrotum is most relaxed.
Hold your penis out of the way or the way. Gently roll each testicle between your fingers and thumb, one at a time. Check for any hard lumps, nodules or abnormalities (changes in the size or shape of the testicle). Each testicle has a small coiled tube on the upper or middle outer side of the testicle that may feel like an abnormality. This is the epididymis and is a part of the testes, so don’t worry about it.
If you find anything of concern, you should see your doctor immediately.
One of the key risk factors for urologic cancers is a family member having had cancer in the past. Your genes play a huge role in your biological makeup, so if cancer runs in your family, then you are at greater risk.
Ask your parents about your family history (other conditions may also increase the risk of cancer), and take note of anything of importance – relay this information to your doctor. This may mean you need to be screened earlier or more often, so it is imperative for early detection.
Dr Arianayagam is a very experienced urologist and has extensive experience in dealing with all urological conditions.
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