Cancer can grow in almost any body part, even the ones we are too shy to talk about in public. In men, that can include their reproductive organs.


The penis has various kinds of tissues, which means that different kinds of cancers can develop within it. According to the American Cancer Society, the overwhelming majority of penile cancers are in flat skin cells, usually on the foreskin, the part that is removed during a circumcision, or on the glans, the head of the penis. “These tumors tend to grow slowly. If they are found at an early stage, they can usually be cured.” Other types of cancer that can appear on the penis are melanomas, a dangerous form of skin cancer in the cells that produce skin pigment; a type of cancer that forms in the penis skin’s sweat glands; and a cancer in the connective tissue of the penis.

For men who are concerned about their own risk, penile cancer is pretty rare — the American Cancer Society says it only affects about one in 100,000 men in the United States. It will show early signs like a lump or other growths, a change in color, a rash, swelling or a smelly discharge under the foreskin.


These two organs, which hang within the scrotum, make sperm and male hormones. More than 90 percent of cancers in the testicles start in germ cells, which make sperm, and many of those cases are in men as young as their late teens or as old as 45, according to the American Cancer Society. The average age at diagnosis is 33: “This is largely a disease of young and middle-aged men.”

In the early stages of testicular cancer, men may have pain and discomfort, a lump, swelling, or aching in the lower abdomen, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says.

But the cancer is not common — the American Cancer Society estimates the chances of developing it at about one in 263, although the rate has been increasing in the U.S. And the chances of survival are good: “Because testicular cancer usually can be treated successfully, a man’s lifetime risk of dying from this cancer is very low: about 1 in 5,000.”


This gland, which surrounds the urethra, is what makes fluid expelled with sperm when a man ejaculates. It also helps push out that semen. Prostate cancer will often show early symptoms in the urine, like a weak flow, the presence of blood or a need to pee often, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They may also experience pain in their back, hips or pelvis. More advanced symptoms can include trouble getting an erection. Almost all of these cancers start in the cells that make the prostate fluid.

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common that occurs in men in the United States, with about one in seven men facing a diagnosis in their lifetime, most of them older men, the American Cancer Society says. It is also the second most deadly cancer for American men, behind lung cancer. That being said, despite its seriousness, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer still do not die from it: “More than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.”

Additionally, some may not even know they have the cancer, and that may not matter. The American Cancer Society says most prostate cancers grow slowly and, “in fact, autopsy studies show that many older men (and even some younger men) who died of other causes also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lives.”