Testicular cancer and prostate cancer are not the same. The prostate and the testicles are two different parts of the male reproductive system. They are both glands, but have very different functions. Because they are located in the same general area, there is sometimes some confusion between the two types of cancer. The prostate gland (located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum) is about the size of a walnut and responsible for creating a fluid that makes up semen. The testicles are the glands located inside of the scrotum that produce male hormones and sperm. Which gland the cancer starts in determines which type of cancer it is.
Testicular Cancer Is Not Common and Affects Younger Men More
According to the American Cancer Society, testicular cancer is not common: about 1 of every 250 males will develop testicular cancer at some point during their lifetime. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 33, making this largely a disease of young and middle-aged men. But about 6% of cases occur in children and teens, and about 8% occur in men over the age of 55. Because testicular cancer usually can be treated successfully, lifetime risk of dying from this cancer is very low: about 1 in 5,000.
Prostate Cancer Is Very Common and Affects Older Men More
Prostate cancer, on the other hand, is very common. In fact, other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. About 1 man in 8 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. But only about 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates about 248,530 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States will occur in 2021 along with about 34,130 deaths. Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men and in non-Hispanic Black men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40. The average age of men at diagnosis is about 66.
Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer can occur without any symptoms, but the following could be indicators of cancer:
- Heavy feeling or pressure in the scrotum
- Pain in the testicle, back, lower abdomen or groin
- Enlarged testicle
- Lump or swelling in testicle
- Fluid or swelling in scrotum (especially sudden onset)
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Many of these symptoms can be seen in benign (non-cancerous) conditions including BPH (enlarged prostate) which is very common in men over 65. Always discuss symptoms with your doctor. Early stage prostate cancer usually does not have any symptoms, but these are signs to look for:
- Frequent urination
- Weak flow, interrupted flow, and difficulty emptying bladder
- Frequent night urination
- Blood in urine or semen
- Erectile dysfunction
Link between Prostate & Testicular Cancer
Studies have shown that there may be a link between the two cancers. Men who have had testicular cancer may have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer later in life. Cancer can spread to the testicles in a small percent of prostate cancer cases as well. Both of these cancers can be present with no symptoms at all, especially in the early stages, so make sure you get regular checkups. While both cancers are highly treatable, detection is the key to survival.