February 4th is World Cancer Day

world cancer day urological cancers awareness

At Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we understand that receiving a serious diagnosis can be a stressful and frightening time for most people. However, we’re here to help with every step along the way. We strive to meet each person’s individual needs and work to provide our patients with the best care possible. 

In light of World Cancer Day, we at Urology Specialists of the Carolinas want to share information about how to detect and reduce the risk of urological cancers. Urological cancers can affect the urinary tract, the prostate, or the reproductive male organs. 

Types of Urological Cancers

1. Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer occurs when damaged cells in the prostate — a small organ in the male reproductive system — begin to rapidly reproduce, resulting in benign or malignant growths. Benign growths are rarely life-threatening. They can be removed, usually won’t grow back, and won’t spread to other areas of the body. Malignant growths can be life-threatening. They may grow back after removal, and may spread to other organs. 

According to the Urology Care Foundation, prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, affecting 1 in 9 men and about 191,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. Unfortunately there are no known causes of this disease other than mutations in DNA, but the survival rate is around 98 percent if caught early enough. 

Some symptoms of prostate cancer:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain while urinating
  • New cases of erectile dysfunction
  • Blood in semen

2. Bladder Cancer

Often times, this type of cancer is caused by cells in the bladder that change and grow rapidly, forming a tumor in the bladder. About 70,000 men and women in the United States are affected by this disease each year, and according to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, it accounts for approximately 5 percent of new cancer diagnoses yearly. Risk of bladder cancer increases after the age of 55, when you have a family history of cancer, if you’re a smoker, or if you have a history of other bladder infections. 

Some symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Strong urge to urinate even when the bladder is empty
  • Pain when urinating
  • Urinating more often 
  • Inability to urinate at all 
  • Lower back pain
  • Decrease in appetite

For more information on bladder cancer, check out our information page. 

3. Renal (Kidney) Cancer

Kidney cancer begins when cells in the renal tubules, or small tubes inside your kidneys that clean the blood and produce urine, begin to change and grow out of control, resulting in tumors. Each year, around 75,000 men and women in the United States are diagnosed with this disease. However, it is rarely found in patients under the age of 45. The risk of renal cancer increases with age, obesity, family history of kidney disease, and the most popular – smoking – which increases chances of developing kidney cancer by 25 percent in women and 30 percent in men.

Some symptoms of renal cancer include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Back and side pain that won’t go away
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen stomach 
  • Blood work that shows a decrease in red blood cells

4. Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer refers to cancer of the testes in the male reproductive system. It is very rare, with only 1 percent of men being affected by this in their lifetime and only about 8,400 new diagnoses each year. However, unlike other urological cancers, it is common in younger men, and is actually one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in males ranging from 15 to 34 years old. While causes of testicular cancer are still unknown, it may comfort those affected to know that it’s one of the most treatable forms of cancer, with a survival rate of 95 percent

Some symptoms of testicular cancer:

  • Lump(s) on the testicles
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling of the liver
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heavy feeling in scrotum
  • Back pain

5. Penile Cancer

Penile cancer refers to the growth of cancerous cells on the penis and if found early, has a pretty high survival rate. Because patients are sometimes embarrassed to discuss their symptoms with a doctor, penile cancer often goes undiagnosed and untreated, so it’s important to know the warning signs. Catching it early will make all the difference during treatment and increase the rate of success. This form of cancer is caused by a few different things: increased age, human papillomavirus (HPV), smoking, and psoriasis. 

Some symptoms of penile cancer:

  • Areas of skin changing in color or texture
  • Lump(s) on the penis
  • Ulcers that may bleed
  • Smelly fluid under the foreskin
  • Swelling

How to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Urological Cancers

There is no definite way to prevent cancer, as many are caused by inherited genetic mutations. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of cancers caused by other outside factors. 

1. Do not use tobacco products

Tobacco is known to have many negative side effects and is the cause of a plethora of diseases. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, tobacco is responsible for 1 in 5 premature deaths in the United States, 80 percent of lung cancer cases, and 30 percent of all cancer cases. If you currently use tobacco products, do your best to eliminate these products to reduce your risk of cancer. If you need help quitting, check out these frequently asked questions by the Center for Disease Control. 

2. Practice safe sex

As stated earlier, one of the causes of penile cancer is the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is a sexually transmitted disease. HPV is passed by an infected person to their partner during vaginal, anal, or oral sex, even when the carrier is showing no symptoms of the illness. Because of this, it is very important that you implement safe sex practices like using condoms or dental dams every time you have sex. 

3. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly

According to an estimate by the American Cancer Society, around 18 percent of cancer cases are related to the combination of being overweight, not exercising, consuming too much alcohol, and eating poorly. Excess weight means excess estrogen and insulin production, two hormones that cause cells to grow and change at the rates that stimulate cancerous growths. 

4. Get regular checkups 

One of the biggest factors in beating cancer is early detection. In general, the sooner cancerous tissue or tumors are found, the easier they will be to treat. The Rogel Cancer Society states that 3 to 35 percent of cancer-related deaths can be avoided with regular screenings, and most screening tests are either non-invasive or minimally invasive. 

Urology Specialists of the Carolinas

Our team is committed to providing each patient with comprehensive, personalized care. If you or a loved one are coping with a cancer diagnosis and are unsure of where to go from here, contact our team at one of our seven locations. We want to support you through every step and ensure you are receiving the best care possible, along with peace of mind knowing you’re in good hands. 

For more tips on how to reduce the risk of urological cancers, download our free Nutrition and Lifestyle Guide for tips on how to achieve optimal urological health. 

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