Male Reproductive and Urologic Cancer | Cancer


Male Reproductive Cancer

Receive state-of-the-art, customized care from a team of urologic oncology experts.

Medically reviewed by Marc Dall'Era, M.D. on Aug. 24, 2023.

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What Are Male Reproductive and Urologic Cancers?

Male reproductive and urologic cancers occur in organs that support sexual health and urination.

At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, our board-certified urologic oncologists provide compassionate care and advanced treatments.

You receive complete care from a dedicated team of cancer specialists, urologists, radiologists, medical oncologists and others. You also benefit from the latest minimally invasive urology cancer treatments, including urologic robotic-assisted surgery.


Types of Male Reproductive and Urologic Cancers

Common types of reproductive and urologic cancers in men include:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Penile cancer, affecting the penis
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer, affecting the testes (glands) that make sperm
  • Ureteral cancer, affecting the tube (ureter) that connects your kidneys and bladder
  • Urethral cancer, affecting the tube (urethra) that empties urine from your bladder

These cancers may cause few or no symptoms at first, so they often go undiagnosed. If left untreated, cancer may spread to other parts of the body.


Symptoms of Male Reproductive and Urologic Cancers

Male reproductive and urologic cancers often have symptoms that match other conditions. Some cancers cause few or no symptoms. Others may not cause symptoms until they’re advanced.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of reproductive and urologic cancers in men include:

  • Ache in groin or lower abdomen
  • Difficulty urinating or weak (off-and-on) urine flow
  • Foul-smelling discharge (fluid) underneath the penis foreskin
  • Frequent or urgent need to pee, especially at night
  • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles)
  • Inability to fully empty your bladder
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
  • Swelling or lump (usually painless) in your penis or testicle
  • Redness, irritation or sore on the penis
  • Shrinking testicle (testicular atrophy) or change in texture

Emergency Symptoms

If you have any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical care or call 911:

  • Blood in the urine or semen (hematospermia)
  • Lower abdominal pain or swelling
  • Pain during urination (dysuria) or ejaculation
  • Sudden inability to urinate with a full bladder

Causes and Risk Factors of Male Reproductive Cancers

Male reproductive and urologic cancers form when the DNA inside cells changes (mutates). These changes cause the affected cells to grow out of control, forming cancerous tumors.

Certain risk factors make you more prone to develop these cell changes that cause cancer.


Your risk of developing reproductive and urologic cancers increases as you get older. About 60% of all prostate cancers occur in those older than 65, while about 80% of penile cancers occur in men aged 55 or older. Men diagnosed with testicular cancer are typically much younger, most often between 15 and 35 years old.

Family History and Genetics

Several abnormal genetic changes (mutations) can cause reproductive and urologic cancers. For instance, genetic conditions such as Klinefelter's syndrome and changes to BRCA genes increase your risk. You may be eligible for therapies through our hereditary cancer program that lower your cancer risk.

Lifestyle and Dietary Choices

Factors such as tobacco use and obesity may raise your cancer risk.

Other Health Factors

Poor genital hygiene or not being circumcised raises your risk of penile cancer, as does light therapy treatments for psoriasis. Having an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism) increases testicular cancer risk.

Race and Ethnicity

Being Black or Caribbean of African ancestry increases your risk of developing prostate cancer, especially at a younger age. But white people are more likely to develop bladder cancer and testicular cancer.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as human papillomavirus (HPV) or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), may increase your risk.


Smoking causes half of all bladder cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. It also increases your risk for kidney cancer and penile cancer.


Diagnosing Male Reproductive and Urologic Cancers

To diagnose reproductive and urologic cancers, your provider performs a physical exam and reviews your symptoms, family history and health history.

You may also get one or more of these tests to confirm a diagnosis and rule out other conditions:

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: A PSA test (blood test) screens for a certain protein your prostate makes. High levels may indicate prostate cancer.
  • Tumor marker test: This blood test looks for substances (tumor markers) that indicate cancer.
  • Imaging: These tests provide detailed pictures of your reproductive system and urinary tract. You may get a CT scan, MRI, ultrasound or PET scan.
  • Biopsy: A specialist takes a sample of tissue from the affected body area to analyze it for cancer cells.

Diagnosis may also involve cancer staging to determine how advanced your cancer is and whether it has spread. Your provider may check your lymph nodes or recommend a bone scan. 

Male Reproductive and Urologic Cancer Treatments at UC Davis Health

Your reproductive and urinary systems are complex and interconnected. While most urologic cancer treatments are effective, they do come with potential risks. For example, prostate cancer surgery can affect sexual and urinary function.

At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, we offer the latest advancements in urologic cancer care. Your treatment depends on your health, cancer type, cancer stage and preferences. You may receive multiple therapies.

We customize a treatment plan based on your preferences and lifestyle. We don’t just treat the cancer — we help you get back to life on your terms. 

Biologics, Immunotherapy and Other Targeted Therapies

Targeted therapies work in different ways. Some strengthen your immune system or identify and target specific cancer cells. Your urologic oncologist will discuss available options with you and help you select the right treatment. 


Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Our infusion centers provide a calm, supportive environment for IV (through your vein) chemotherapy. You may receive chemotherapy alone or with other therapies, such as stem cell transplant.

Hormone Therapy

Certain hormones can cause some cancers to grow. You may need hormone therapy drugs to remove these hormones or block them from reaching cancer cells.

Laser Ablation or Cryotherapy

These procedures use extreme heat (laser ablation) or cold (cryotherapy) to destroy cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation uses high-dose X-rays to destroy cancer cells. Learn about our Department of Radiation Oncology


A surgical oncologist (cancer surgeon) removes cancerous organs or tissue. We offer minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgeries so you recover more quickly with less pain.

Clinical Trials

You may be eligible to access one of many clinical trials to try promising new treatments not widely available. 

Preventing Male Reproductive and Urologic Cancers

You may be able to lower your risk of male reproductive and urologic cancers by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. Knowing the early warning signs of cancer, such as abdominal pain or difficulty urinating, is also important.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are important parts of healthy eating. Avoid red meats and processed foods. Our nutrition experts can help you develop good habits.

Exercise Regularly

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise each week, plus two days of muscle-strengthening activity. Exercise about 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or break it up into shorter times.

Get Regular Checkups

Ask your provider about cancer screenings based on your risk factors. You can also perform genital self-exams to identify concerning health issues.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Talk to your provider about what a healthy weight means for you. Our weight management programs can help.

Quit Smoking

Avoid tobacco products. If you smoke, our tobacco cessation program can help you find ways to kick the habit.

On average, men are age

33When first diagnosed with testicular cancer

In the U.S., prostate cancer is the

2nd Leading cause of cancer death in men

American Cancer Society: Key Statistics for Testicular Cancer
American Cancer Society: Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer

Request an Appointment

Our cancer specialists provide thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans. Learn more about how to make an appointment at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.



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