Although the prostate and the testicles are both part of the male reproductive system, prostate cancer and testicular cancer are different from one another. Here is how:
1. Where the cancer starts
Testicular cancer and prostate cancer are different because the cancer starts in different places in the body. Prostate cancer occurs when cancer begins to grow inside the prostate gland, which is responsible for creating a fluid that makes up semen. Alternatively, testicular cancer occurs when the cancer starts in the testicles, the glands located inside of the scrotum that produce male hormones, such as testosterone, and sperm. The prostate gland and the testicles are two different parts in the male reproductive system.
2. The statistics
The American Cancer Society estimates in 2019 there will be more than 174,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States, making it the second most common cancer in men. In contrast, it is estimated that in 2019 there will be 9,000 new cases of testicular cancer in the United States, making it the relatively rare and the 24th most common cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
3. When they are most likely to occur
Prostate cancer typically develops later in life, with the average age of diagnosis being mid-60s. Prostate cancer is also more common in African American men. The age for testicular cancer development is broader. However, about half of all cases of testicular cancer are in men between the ages of 20 and 34, and Caucasian American men are four to five times more likely to get testicular cancer than men of other races.
4. The symptoms
While early-stage prostate cancer typically does not show any symptoms, here are some of the signs of prostate cancer to be aware of:
- Frequent urination, and urination in which the flow feels weak, interrupted, or feeling like you need to strain to empty your bladder
- Frequent urination at night
- Blood in the urine or the semen
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Many of these symptoms may be seen in benign conditions as well, such as benign prostatic hypertrophy, which is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. BPH is a condition that affects most men, and occurs when the prostate tissue overgrows and puts pressure on the urethra and bladder, blocking the flow of urine. While many of these symptoms may also be seen in benign conditions, it is always important to discuss them with your doctor.
While testicular cancer can occur without any symptoms, the following can be indicators of the disease:
- A feeling of heaviness or pressure in the scrotum
- Discomfort or pain in the testicle
- Pain or dull ache in the back or lower abdomen or groin
- Enlarged testicle or a change in the way it feels
- Lump or swelling in either testicle
- Fluid or swelling in the scrotum, especially (though not exclusively) if it appears suddenly
If you have any concerns, talk with your doctor. Your doctor should also check for testicular cancer during your routine health exam.
NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms
American Cancer Society: What Is Testicular Cancer?
American Cancer Society: Key Statistics for Testicular Cancer
American Cancer Society: Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer
Cancer.Net: Prostate Cancer: Symptoms and Signs
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