Today, 7 November, is National Cancer Awareness Day. Back in 2014, while launching this health day, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had said: “It is high time we went into combative mode against this disease.” We could not agree more.
Every year, India reports over 1.1 million new cases of cancer. A majority of them are diagnosed at an advanced stage, reducing the patients’ chances of survival. Raising awareness could change this – when more people are aware of the signs they need to look for, they are more likely to spot them and seek medical advice for them.
Cancer is an abnormal growth of tissue – it can affect any part of the body, from the mouth to the lungs and breasts. Some cancers, however, only affect one of the genders. This National Cancer Awareness Day, we shine the light on cancers that only affect men.
The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system. Its basic function is to produce enzymes, proteins, minerals to nourish and protect the semen.
According to the 2018 Globocan report, India reported 25,696 new cases of prostate cancer and 17,184 men died from the same that year.
Cancer researchers argue that this number may double by the end of 2020, as the population ages. (According to one estimate, by the time men reach the age of 80, almost 80% of them have cancer cells in the prostate gland.) Changes in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes also makes one more susceptible to prostate cancer.
Early signs include increased urge to urinate at night, blood in the semen, blood in their urine, sudden erectile dysfunction, burning sensation while urinating and uneasiness while sitting due to an enlarged prostate.
One of the more malignant cancers, penile cancer typically affects old men – the risk increases with advancing age.
According to the Globocan 2018 India data, India reported 9,938 new cases of penile cancer and over 6,000 deaths as a result of the disease last year. Another study shows that the age-adjusted incidence of penile cancer ranges from 0.7-2.3 cases per 100,000 men in urban India and is around three cases per 100,000 men in the rural areas. As a whole, penile cancer accounts for almost 6 percent of malignant cancers among Indians.
Most of the cases are reported at advanced stages. A study suggests that circumcision is related to reduced incidence of penile cancer and smoking increases the risk.
The earliest sign of this types of cancer is a lump or a mass on the penis. It could be in the form of an ulcer that might look insignificant at first. Changes are mostly seen on the head or foreskin of the penis, not on the shaft.
The thing with awareness is that it has the potential to eliminate even the rarest of cancers. Case in point: testicular cancer.
At the rate of one among 100,000 men population, testicular cancer in India is extremely rare. Another piece of good news: most cases are reported at stage 1 of cancer progression.
An early sign of testicular cancer is a lump in the testes. It is important to note that every lump in the testicles is not cancer – it could be a cyst (a fluid-filled cavity which is common and non-cancerous). Getting an ultrasound can help distinguish between a cyst and a tumour.
Other signs of testicular cancer could be shrinking or swelling of testicles, pain in the testes or scrotum and enlarged or tender male breasts.
Health articles in NewsX.com are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Prostate Cancer.