Five Rare But Very Real Conditions Affecting Men
When many think of men’s health issues, they think of low testosterone or prostate cancer, but these conditions have much rarer instances. Even though they are not included in the top ten male health problems, these rare, but very real, conditions should still be on your radar, for good health.
Male Breast Cancer
Although breast cancer generally affects women, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, less than one percent of all men will develop breast cancer, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with the disease.
Risk factors include a family history, radiation exposure, high levels of estrogen and some genetic conditions.
Due to awareness and the rarity of the disease developing in men, men also carry a higher mortality rate than women. If you notice a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away so it can be tested and treated.
You’ve probably heard of kidney stones, which are much more common. Bladder stones share many similarities with kidney stones, but as you can probably guess from their name, these hard pieces of mineral buildup develop in the bladder. They usually occur from an incomplete elimination of urine from the bladder. The leftover urine become concentrated and the minerals that naturally occur in your urine turn into crystals.
Since bladder stones commonly form from the inability to fully empty the bladder, they can occur in men who have enlarged prostates, nerve damage, inflammation or kidney stones. Small stones typically pass on their own, but larger ones may need medical attention.
Bladder stones usually don’t cause symptoms, but if a stone irritates the bladder wall or blocks the flow of urine, symptoms can include:
- Lower abdominal pain
- Pain or discomfort in the penis or testicles
- A burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty urinating, a weak or interrupted flow
- Blood in the urine
- Cloudy or abnormally dark urine
You might only be familiar with testicular cancer from Lance Armstrong’s famous battle with the disease in the late 90s. That’s because testicular cancer is not common, with about one in every 263 males developing the disease at some point during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.
The disease primarily affects young and middle-aged men—the average age at the time of diagnosis is 33. But about 7 percent of cases occur in children and teens, and the same percentage in men over the age of 55.
Risk factors include family history, an undescended testicle, HIV and age. Some men have no symptoms, but symptoms can include:
- Low back pain
- Lump or swelling in the testicle
- Shortness of breath, chest pain or a cough
- Belly pain
- Headaches or confusion
- Breast growth or soreness
Since testicular cancer is typically treated successfully, a man’s lifetime risk of dying from this cancer is about one in 5,000, which is very low.
Many assume eating disorders are an issue only women have to deal with, but about 40 percent of those diagnosed with binge-eating disorder are male. Binge eating involves eating an amount of food that is considered larger than what most people would eat in a short period of time, like two hours. It can also include a sense of loss of control over how much you are eating.
Additional behaviors can include:
- Eating when full or not hungry
- Eating until uncomfortably full
- Eating rapidly
- Frequently eating alone or in secret
- Repeatedly going on and off diets
Since binge-eating commonly stems from a psychological issue, treatment often begins with addressing these issues.
Although hematuria, or blood in the urine, is primarily caused by infection, trauma, kidney stones or cancer, if you’re a long-distance runner, you may have heard of runner’s or jogger’s hematuria.
The condition is caused by the repeated shaking of the bladder and its related parts. An easy way to prevent runner’s hematuria is to urinate 30 minutes before heading out for a run instead of immediately before, so there is time for your bladder to fill with a small amount of urine. This small amount of urine can lessen the odds of trauma from happening to the inside walls of your bladder as you run.
Since hematuria is more commonly caused by the conditions listed above, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor, just in case.
Create a Relationship With Your Doctor
Although these conditions are rare, it’s important to set up a strong relationship with a primary care physician. Creating a longstanding relationship with your doctor can make it easier to prevent, diagnose or treat any illness that may come up in the future, no matter how rare or common.
In need of a primary care physician? Use our “Find-a-Physician” tool to find a doctor near you.