Male cancer: signs and symptoms

Caroline Cassidy

Though awareness of male cancer has grown in recent years, the symptoms, as with so many types of the disease, are often hard to spot. But the earlier the disease is caught the easier it is to treat so if you are concerned here are a few signs to look out for.

male cancer symptoms
male cancer symptoms

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Prostate cancer

The most common cancer among men, The Prostate Cancer Charity estimates that 35,000 men are diagnosed with the disease each year in the UK. Most often prostate cancer affects men over 50 and the risk increases with age.

In the early stages, many find they have no symptoms at all. However, a new pain in the lower back, hips or pelvis or trouble getting or keeping an erection could be a sign that there's a problem. Sufferers often experience difficulty passing urine or find they need to urinate more frequently.

This type of cancer is often solved by surgically removing the prostate (though radiotherapy may also be necessary). If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, be on the safe side and consult your doctor. If you are in a high-risk category, it is worth getting your prostate checked regularly.

Testicular cancer
Though the incidence is relatively low in the UK, the number of cases is rising. According to Cancer Research UK, almost half of men diagnosed with the disease are under the age of 35 and more than 90 per cent occur in under-55s.

The most common symptom is a hard, pea-sized swelling or lump on one testicle - though it can affect both. An unusual heaviness in the scrotum or discomfort in the groin, testicle or scrotal sac can all signal a problem.

It is also, however, the most treatable of cancers - treatment usually involves removing the affected testicle and 95 per cent make a full recovery. Doctors advise checking your testicles once a month after a warm bath or shower and if you feel anything unusual, visit your GP. For advice on how to check properly, visit

Penile cancer
There are less than 500 cases of penile cancer in the UK each year and it usually occurs in older people - the majority of men diagnosed are over the age of 60.

Early signs that a cancer may be developing include a growth or sore that does not heal within four weeks and bleeding either from the penis itself or from under the foreskin. A foul-smelling discharge, rash, change in colour or difficulty drawing back the foreskin can also signal the onset so if you notice any changes do report them to your doctor.

Caught in the early stages, minor surgery may solve the problem but further surgical procedures combined with radio or chemotherapy may also be necessary.

Breast cancer
Around 240 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in men in the UK each year.

It most often occurs in men over 65 years of age and, as with women, a lump in the breast is usually the first sign of trouble. You may need surgery to remove the tumour combined with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

If you are concerned about any of the above symptoms or have noticed changes in your body, do not wait - see your GP. Even if there is nothing wrong, it is always better to be safe than sorry.