Health & Medicine

Quick Facts on Urologic Cancers

Certain cancers affect men more than women, and that includes cancers of the urologic tract. Here's what men need to know regarding these diseases.

Prostate cancer: Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men, occurring mostly in males over the age of 65. Risk factors for the disease include age (risk increases considerably over age 50), a family history of prostate cancer, obesity and/or a poor diet.

Luckily, prostate cancer is usually slow growing, and can be found early through two screening methods: by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood and through a digital rectal exam by a physician.

Testicular cancer: About half of testicular cancers occur in men ages 20-34. There are few known risk factors for this disease, although having an undescended testicle or family history of the disease seems to play a part.

A physician can find testicular cancers early, generally through either a self-exam or during a regular physical exam. Symptoms of this cancer may include a new lump or swelling in the testicles.

Bladder cancer: Nine of 10 bladder cancer patients are over 55, and men are 3-4 times more likely to develop this cancer than women. It can cause changes in urination, including burning, frequency, or blood in the urine.

Besides age, the biggest risk factor for bladder cancer is smoking. Exposure to certain industrial chemicals called aromatic amines may increase risk — and combining these two factors leads to an especially high risk for disease. Other risk factors include bladder infections or birth defects, not consuming enough fluids, family history, and use of certain chemotherapy drugs or previous radiation to the pelvis.

Kidney (renal) cancer: Kidney cancer occurs mostly in people over 45. Its symptoms — blood in the urine, fatigue, fever, constant pain in the side — are sometimes dismissed as a less serious problem. It's important to check with a physician if you experience them. This cancer is usually found at an early stage, often during a scan or procedure for another health issue.

Common risk factors include smoking, workplace exposure to certain chemicals, and obesity. People who have certain inherited conditions, including von Hippel-Lindau disease, are at a higher risk. High blood pressure is also linked to this cancer.

How are urologic cancers treated?: Every case is different, but these cancers are frequently treated with surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. New advances in the treatment of urologic cancers, including minimally invasive or robotic surgical techniques, mean a faster recovery with fewer side effects.