Cancer can strike any part of the reproductive system, but research has led to better diagnoses, treatments, and a lower chance of death for many of these cancers.
Most testicular cancers are found by men on their own. Talk with your doctor about whether you should do a testicular self-exam and how often you should do it. Some doctors recommend that all men do monthly testicular self-exams after puberty. If you do one, the best time is during or right after a shower or bath, when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed. Men should see a doctor if they notice any of the following symptoms:
These symptoms can be caused by cancer or by other conditions. It is important to see a doctor to find out the cause of any symptoms.
There are no symptoms in the early stages. That's why it's important for men at risk for developing prostate cancer to talk with their healthcare provider about the benefits of screening. One or both of these screening tests may be used to detect prostate abnormalities: a digital rectal exam and a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). High levels of PSA can be caused by cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an infection. Symptoms of later-stage prostate cancer include:
Any of these symptoms may be caused by cancer or by other, less serious health problems, such as BPH or an infection. A man who has symptoms like these should see his healthcare provider.
Factors that put a woman at risk of developing ovarian cancer are:
Other possible factors include taking fertility medicines. These may slightly increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Talc may be a risk factor. Some studies suggest that women who use talc in the genital area for many years may be at risk. Hormone therapy may also raise risk. Some studies suggest that women who use HT after menopause may have a slightly increased risk. Having one or more of the risk factors mentioned here does not mean that a woman is sure to develop ovarian cancer, but the chance may be higher than average.
Other symptoms include:
Cancer of the uterus occurs mostly in women older than 50. Other risk factors for uterine cancer are:
Other risk factors are related to how long a woman's body is exposed to estrogen. Women who have no children, begin menstruation at a very young age, or enter menopause late in life are exposed to estrogen longer and have a higher risk.
Francesca Torriani, MD
Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Clinical Epidemiology
UC San Diego | School of Medicine