Eight out of ten men have never made a urological visit in their lives. In contrast to women, who are used to carrying out periodic checks by their gynecologist, the male population seems reluctant to have their genitals examined. Shame, lack of a culture of prevention and cultural taboos often keep men away from specialists in the field. That is why the diagnosis of penile and testicular cancers is very often late and occurs following controls for infertility problems or erectile dysfunction that men have decided to undergo. Moreover, there is another thing that men often ignore: the importance of hygiene, which is the basis for the correct prevention of many of the diseases of the male sexual apparatus. We talk about this topic with Dr. Giovanni Lughezzani, urologist at Humanitas.
Hygiene, a question of education
Educating people from an early age in careful hygiene and self-maintenance of the genitals and penis is an important life-saving principle. Children should be taught how to properly cleanse their intimate parts before the beginning of their sexual life. From the age of ten, young males should become accustomed to self-palpation and to keeping their genitals under control. In the male populations where this practice is present, in fact, the risk of penile cancer is very low and the early diagnosis of penile or testicular cancer is very frequent.
The rules of good hygiene
Do not smoke, use condoms (even in foreplay), vaccinate against HPV (at about 12 years of age) and protect the genitals from ultraviolet rays. These are all fundamental rules for the prevention of diseases affecting the male genitals. The importance of the practice of cleansing with care and attention, also in the area under the glans, is greatly underestimated. This helps, among other things, to prevent phimosis, the main risk factor for penile cancer. It is the formation of scar tissue following a chronic inflammatory condition, which prevents the discovery of the glans. Maximum attention must be given also, in uncircumcised patients, to the preservation of the foreskin, that is, of the skin fold covering the glans, where, with great facility, stagnations of secretions may form. In the long run, chronic irritation can be created, which is a risk factor for the development of cancer.
Checking the testes
Just by touching the testicles in the moment of daily hygiene, as you should do from puberty onwards, you can grasp differences in shape, or consistency, which could be an early sign of disease. Similarly, if you observe and touch your penis, you may find stains, swelling or something else that you should tell your doctor about.
Testicular cancer, what do you need to be careful about in order to prevent it?
Cryptorchidism, i.e. failure to descend either of the testes, can increase the risk of cancer by 10 times. But the chances are reduced if the abnormality is corrected pharmacologically and surgically at an early age. Fortunately, testicular cancer is successfully treated in nine out of ten cases when it is diagnosed early. Surgery is the most effective instrument. As far as the cancer of the penis is concerned, on the other hand, if it is picked up early, it is possible to intervene with a mix of laser and chemotherapy, with the preservation of the organ in more than six cases out of ten.