Of the 33 tumors that were identified, 25 were prostate tumors.

The other eight tumors were found in the seminal vesicles, testicles, and epididymis.

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Although health care professionals can’t quantify hematospermia’s prevalence, they have been increasingly able to ascribe the condition to a particular cause, thanks to better diagnostic techniques, advances in medical imaging, and some good old-fashioned sleuthing.

From there, they can either prescribe medication or another treatment, or offer an anxious patient some much-needed reassurance that the condition will resolve on its own.

While it’s true that hematospermia may indicate prostate cancer or another urologic disease, that’s usually not the case. Just as puzzling, the condition can be limited to a single episode or can occur repeatedly over several weeks or months before disappearing completely.

Doctors have been diagnosing hematospermia for centuries — even the Greek physician Hippocrates, who lived from around 460 to 377 B. But the true prevalence of the condition remains a mystery.

An anxious colleague recently came into my office and closed the door.

“I think I might have prostate cancer,” he said quietly.

After a moment of stunned silence, I asked him about his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level and whether he had had a biopsy.

“I haven’t had a PSA test recently, and I’ve never had a biopsy,” he replied.

Any of the organs, glands, or ducts shown here may be the source of the bleeding, though the cause and source of the bleeding often can’t be determined.