Kidney pain or mass. If you are experiencing abdominal pain, your primary care doctor may refer you to have a CT scan or an ultrasound. While the scan may or may not show what is causing the pain, it can identify if there is a mass on the kidney. If a mass has been found in your kidney, do not let anyone do a biopsy the mass until you have seen a urologist.
While it is assumed that the mass could be kidney cancer, it can also mean a cyst (fluid-filled sac), an infection, or hydronephrosis (partial blockage of kidney). It’s important to see a urologist before having your kidney biopsied in order to rule out other causes of the mass. A urologist may do a urine cytology, a cystoscopy, additional blood work, or order additional scans to check what could be causing the mass.
Elevated PSA. PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, is a protein produced in the prostate. A PSA test, which is a simple blood test, can measure the level of PSA in the blood. A PSA that rises or is elevated, such as above 4.0 ng/mL, may indicate prostate cancer. However, the PSA test is not specific for prostate cancer. An elevated PSA could also mean an enlarged prostate or prostatitis (a prostate infection). Most doctors don’t test the PSA, except for urologists. Men should have a baseline PSA test starting at age 40 and check it annually.
The risk for prostate cancer goes significantly up after 50, however men can develop it younger than 50. It’s especially important for men who are at a higher risk for prostate cancer to check their PSA. Men who have a higher risk for prostate cancer include African-American men, men over 50, and men who have a family history of prostate cancer. African-American men are often diagnosed with more aggressive prostate cancers, so it’s important to check it early and keep track of any changes in the PSA level. With early detection, prostate cancer is highly treatable and curable.
Blood in the urine (aka hematuria). Blood in the urine is not normal. It may be an early warning sign of a number of serious health conditions, such as a bladder or kidney infection, kidney stones, kidney cancer, or bladder cancer. If you see blood in your urine, the urologist will start by doing a simple urine test called a urinalysis to test for the presence and amount of microscopic blood in the urine.
They may also do a cystoscopy to look inside your bladder, or refer you for an x-ray or CT scan. Do not wait to see a urologist if you see blood in your urine. It usually means something is wrong and in that case, will not go away on its own.
Testicular pain or lump. Testicular pain occurs in or around one or both testicles. The pain felt in your testicles does not always mean the source is in your testicles; it could be pain caused by another area of the body such as in the abdomen or groin. Testicular pain may be caused by a number of different things including inflammation, hydrocele, kidney stones, inguinal hernia, scrotal mass, urinary tract infection, varicocele, or even testicular cancer.
A testicular lump is an abnormal mass in the testicles, and are actually pretty common. They can occur in both adult men and teenage boys. A testicular lump should not be ignored because while it may not always be serious, it is a sign that there is something wrong with the testicle. While most testicular lumps are caused by an injury, they can also indicate a varicocele, hydrocele, epididymal cyst, testicular torsion, or testicular cancer. If it is testicular cancer, do not worry. With detected early, testicular cancer is highly treatable and curable.