After having a male vasectomy performed, it’s possible that some men may opt to have a vasectomy reversal. The reasons may range from pain experienced in the testes after the operation for unknown reasons to the desire to start a new family. Success can be achieved for a patient that has had a male vasectomy and wants to have a reversal procedure performed.
A new US study done at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine has found that men who have had testicular cancer may be at a higher risk of prostate cancer.
The rate of prostate cancer in men who had previously had testicular cancer was 12.6%, compared to 2.8% for those who had not. They were also five times more likely to develop intermediate or high-risk prostate cancer than men who had not had testicular cancer.
What is testicular cancer?
Unlike cancer of the prostate, testicular cancer – or cancer of the testes – is mostly a younger man’s disease. According to the government’s Better Health Channel, testicular cancer is relatively rare, but is still the second most common cancer in men aged 18-39, with the rate of the disease having grown by 50% in the last 30 years.
Symptoms may include a lump in the testes, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, and / or a persistent ache in the affected testicle or in the lower abdomen – although it may present with no symptoms at all. Diagnosis is often done through an ultrasound and blood tests.
Testicular cancer in most cases can be successfully treated. Treatments include surgical removal of the affected testicle, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. If left untreated, testicular cancer may spread to the lymph glands and other organs – most often the lungs.
Risk factors include undescended testes in childhood, a family history of the disease, penile abnormalities, and complications from mumps.
What is the link to prostate cancer?
At this stage if there is a link between the two diseases, the reason for it is unknown. In most cases examined in the study, the men who had had both diseases contracted prostate cancer 30 years after the first diagnosis of testicular cancer – a considerable length of time, especially if a link between the two does exist.
The evidence is not yet conclusive, and it’s clear that more research needs to be carried out. While there haven’t been any recommendations for medical practitioners at this stage, the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand recommends that men who have had testicular cancer should visit their doctor to discuss having a prostate cancer test.
Reducing the risk
Whether you have had testicular cancer or not, there are some steps you can take that may help to reduce your risk of prostate cancer. These include following a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and a diet rich in plant foods, and reducing weight, quitting smoking and avoiding excess alcohol.
In any case, if you have had testicular cancer in your younger years, you should consider getting a prostate cancer screening. Your doctor or a urologist in Sydney will be able to help you with this and to provide more information on the disease.
In this update, I discuss lower urinary tract symptoms in men, outline the appropriate investigations available and go into detail around the various management options.
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Some years ago, Kidney Health Australia (KHA) put out a position statement on water. The statement, called ‘Drink Water Instead’, highlighted the importance of water in maintaining kidney health. This is because without adequate water, our kidneys suffer and cannot properly function.
What is the function of the kidneys?
The kidneys perform a role that is rather like a very efficient waste disposal unit. Without kidney function, we would die within a matter of days – which is clearly why we have two of them! Even if one fails, the other one can continue the job as long as it is healthy.
The main role of the kidneys is to filter out and collect waste materials – such as unwanted chemicals, excess fluid and unneeded nutrients – and combine them with water to create urine for elimination via the bladder. This filtering process can happen hundreds of times a day and yet most of us probably never give it a second thought – that is until we develop an uncomfortable problem such as a kidney stone, or a urinary tract infection!
The kidneys also have a number of other roles, including balancing the volume of minerals and fluids in the body, and producing hormones and enzymes that make red blood cells and are involved in the control of blood pressure and maintenance of bone health.
Looking after our kidneys
We tend to hear a lot about looking after our heart health and taking care of our skin and bones, but not much about the kidneys – even though our lives depend upon them!
Keeping well hydrated is essential, especially as between two and three litres of water is lost every day through elimination and also through the skin and lungs. Water is considered preferable to sugar-based drinks, as the latter may affect dental health and are also associated with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) when taken to excess.
How much water should we drink?
As long as we are generally healthy, there are no set rules about how much water we should drink. It depends upon a number of factors such as environment and lifestyle. For instance, if someone lives in a tropical region, or does strenuous work or exercise, their fluid needs are going to be higher than those of someone living in a more temperate zone with a sedentary occupation.
At one time it was stated that all adults should drink at least two litres of water per day. However, the KHA position is that we should drink according to thirst, and that caffeinated and sugared drinks should be limited. There are some exceptions to this – for instance if someone has had a kidney stone, it is recommended that they drink at least two litres per day to reduce the risk of another one.
People with certain health conditions – including end-stage renal failure – may need to reduce their fluid intake in accordance with their doctor’s advice.
As well as getting adequate water each day, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise and quitting smoking if necessary can also help keep the kidneys in good health. Alcohol should be limited as it has a dehydrating effect on the body, and reducing salt may help to lower the risk of kidney stones.
If you suffer from kidney stones you should see your doctor or a kidney stone specialist to discuss treatments such as kidney stone removal and measures to reduce your risk level.
A number of studies reveal that high levels of vitamin D in the blood may have a protective effect against bladder cancer. It now also appears that marijuana may play asimilar role – which while controversial, is a rather interesting development!
Here are some of the bladder cancer risk factors, and how these two substances may play a role in reducing the risk of the disease.
Bladder cancer risk factors and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, frequency of urination, and pain or burning during urination. However, these can also be symptomatic of a bladder or urinary tract infection, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis.
Common risk factors include:
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer occurring in Australian men. According to Cancer Australia, prostate cancer accounted for 30% of newly diagnosed cancers among men in 2010.
While prostate cancer treatment is available, and many men live with the disease for a long period of time without suffering any adverse effects, there are ways that you can potentially lower your risk of getting prostate cancer.
The latest study
According to a New York University study published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control in January, there are two simple things that may potentially decrease not only your risk of prostate cancer, but of a number of other obesity-related cancers as well.
The study involved almost 3,000 people in America, and analysed medical and diet data from these people over a long period of time, between 1991 and 2008.
The study found that eating more fruit, vegetables and legumes, and lowering alcohol consumption, are associated with reducing the risk of many cancers.
Niyati Parekh, the senior author of the study and associate professor of nutrition and public health at New York University Steinhardt, said: “Based on the study’s results, dietary advice on preventing cancer should emphasise the importance of eating a plant-based diet and restricting alcohol consumption.”
Eat your vegies
The benefits of eating more vegetables are often touted widely. The study in Cancer Causes & Control is just one among many that have found eating more vegetables can contribute to overall health, and therefore potentially lower the risk of obesity-related cancers.
So how many vegetables do you need to consume? According to Australian Government dietary guidelines, men are recommended to eat between five to six serves of vegetables per day, depending on their age. Those over 70 may require slightly less than those under the age of 50. A standard serve of vegetables is about 75 grams.
Decrease alcohol intake
While you’re increasing your vegetable intake, try reducing how much alcohol you drink as well. The study recommended that men restrict their alcohol consumption to two drinks per day.
While there is a range of prostate cancer treatments available, from surgery to radiation and hormone therapy depending on the severity of the cancer, it makes sense to reduce your risk of cancer as much as possible. Making some dietary changes may not only lower your risk of cancer, they can also have numerous other positive effects on your general health.
A Male vasectomy is a procedure to prevent a man from reproducing. In other words, it is a form of permanent male contraception – although a reversal operation is a possibility in some cases.
What does it involve?
In normal male reproduction, sperm cells (which are made and stored in the testes) are combined with semen (the fluid produced from the seminal vesicles and the prostate) and carried through the urethra in the penis.
A male vasectomy is a simple procedure that prevents sperm from travelling from the testes to the penis by cutting and blocking the vas deferens – the tubes involved in this action. The remaining sperm in the testes is then absorbed into the body over time.
What changes can be noticed?
After a vasectomy procedure you should not notice any changes, as it does not affect libido, the capacity to produce semen or male hormones, or the ability to have a normal sex life and to achieve orgasm and ejaculation. The only difference that occurs is that the semen does not contain reproductive sperm cells, which should not be noticeable.
Conventional vasectomy method:
In this case small incisions are made in the scrotum, the vas deferens are identified, and are then snipped and tied. The incisions are then closed with stitches.
No scalpel vasectomy method:
This method is far less invasive, involving locating the vas deferens through the skin and making a tiny pointed incision. The vas are then cut and sealed, and there is no need for stitches. It can be done in as little as 5-10 minutes.
Both methods can be done with a local anaesthetic, although in some cases a general anaesthetic will be used.
What are the risks?
As for all surgery there are some risks involved, but the risk level is very low with the conventional method and even lower with a no-scalpel vasectomy. Possible complications include infection or bleeding, and in some cases prolonged groin-pain may be experienced, although this is very rare.
How successful is it?
As a method of contraception, a vasectomy procedure is very successful, although in rare cases sperm may still manage to travel across where the tubes have been cut. No vasectomy can be guaranteed 100% as a contraceptive. The chances of pregnancy following the procedure are around 1 in 1,000.
It’s also important to continue to use other forms of contraception after the operation. This is because there may still be some sperm cells in the upper part of the tubes and it can take several months for them to flush out. Contraception can only be discontinued once a test shows that the semen has a zero sperm count.
Sperm may continue to be made in the testes after vasectomy, but after a length of time production may be reduced or may cease. Once the production of sperm has ended, a reversal procedure will not be feasible.
You can find out more about vasectomy procedures by contacting a professional urologist in Sydney.