Reproductive cancers can affect men and women and occur in the reproductive organs. In women, breast and cervical cancers are the most common and in men, prostate and testicular cancer.
What are reproductive cancers?
Reproductive cancers are cancers that occur in the reproductive organs. They can affect both men and women.
In women, these are cancers in the breast, cervix, uterus, vulva, endometrium or ovaries.
In men, reproductive cancers can be found in the prostate, testicles and penis.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Aotearoa New Zealand women. Breast cancer is less common in women under 50.
The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age.
It is possible for men to get breast cancer because breast cancer develops in breast tissue.
BreastScreen Aotearoa offers a free breast screening programme (mammography) for women aged 45 to 69 years in Aotearoa New Zealand. The aim of mammography is to find very small cancers before a lump can be felt.
Early treatment of breast cancer has the best chance of success.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers. It is caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Having regular cervical smear tests is a woman’s best protection against developing cervical cancer. This test will help find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
All women aged between 20 and 70 should have a cervical smear test every three years. If abnormal cells have been found you should have smears more frequently.
What is penile cancer?
Penile cancer is a rare condition which occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissue of the penis.
Uncircumcised men over the age of 50 are most at risk of getting penile cancer. Men with a history of genital warts and human papillomavirus (HPV or the wart virus) are also at higher risk.
Men should discuss any penile changes with their doctor. Partners of men with penile cancer should also be screened for other forms of cancer caused by HPV in the genital area – this includes cervical, vulvar and anal cancer.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Aotearoa New Zealand. There are around 2,500 new diagnoses each year.
Men who develop prostate cancer are mostly over the age of 65. It rarely occurs in men younger than 55. In very elderly men, prostate cancer often grows very slowly and may cause no symptoms.
All men over 45 should discuss with their doctor whether to have prostate cancer screening.
What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged between 15 and 35 years but it can happen to men of any age.
Testicular cancer is almost always curable, particularly if it is diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
What other types of reproductive cancer are there?
There are three other types of reproductive cancers in women - ovarian cancer, uterine or endometrial cancer and vulval cancer. Some of these cancers can also be an issue for transmen.
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