This April is the International Testicular Awareness month. With the #knowthynuts, the medical world has been trying to create awareness about this type of cancer that commonly affects men between 20 to 35 years or those in the prime of their fertility. Surprisingly, it is a prevalent type of cancer, but the good part is it can be cured completely (90% success rate) unless cancer metastasizes, which means it spreads to other parts of your body.
Here are the top 5 facts you should know about Testicular Cancer :
Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer for young men. The occurrence of testicular cancer rises with the onset of puberty and is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 40. Health history also plays a significant role in determining who is most likely to develop testicular cancer.
Risk factors include:
- Having had an undescended testicle
- Having had abnormal development of the testicles
- Personal history of testicular cancer
- Family history of testicular cancer (especially in a father or brother)
- Belonging to a particular race or ethnicity
Self-exams are an essential step in catching testicular cancer early. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump or swelling in the testicle. Regular testicular self-examinations can help identify these growths early when the chance for successful treatment is highest. Other symptoms can include:
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin
- A sudden build-up of swelling in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum
- Back pain
If you’re a guy in your 20s or 30s, you should be getting to know your testicles a little better. What they look like, what they feel like, and what’s typical for you down there.
The shower is a great place to start because the warmth relaxes the scrotum, making the exam easier.
Around once a month, when you’re in the shower, gently roll one testicle at a time between your thumb and fingers. If you notice any changes, it's advised you don’t panic. It doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer, but you should get it checked out. Nearly all patients with disease limited to the testicle are curable, many with surgery alone. The chance of cure goes down if the tumour has spread outside the testicle. In particular, adolescent boys often wait to see a doctor and should be encouraged to seek care earlier.
- The most common first-line treatment for testicular cancer is surgery. Surgery removes the testicle and is a cure for most patients. Tumours that have spread to other places in the body may also be partly or entirely removed through surgery. After surgery, some patients may undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment to kill any remaining cancer cells. Patients should continue close surveillance of abnormalities and regular self-examination after treatment.
- Treatment for testicular cancer can affect fertility. While men can maintain fertility with one testicle, if a man requires chemotherapy or radiation following surgery, his sperm count may be temporarily or permanently reduced. With the help of doctors and fertility experts, many patients can go on to have families after treatment.
- Testicular cancer does not necessarily affect sexuality. The vast majority of men with testicular cancer only have one testicle affected. After treatment, the remaining testicle produces all of the needed hormones that affect masculinity, including hair growth, voice, and sex drive. The removal of a testicle does not affect the ability to have an erection.
For some men, the testicle is a symbol of manhood, and missing one can cause emotional concerns that may affect sexuality. Adapting to life with one testicle can take some time, but sharing your concerns and insecurities with your partner can help.
Men who worry about their appearance after treatment can talk to their doctor about implanting a prosthetic testicle in the scrotum. In the rare instances where men have cancer in both testicles, they may take testosterone to maintain their sex drives and masculine attributes.
Medical Citation: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute + Seattle Medical Website