Testicular Cancer: What Should You Know?

November 16, 2012 8:00 pm

We hear a lot about the “big” cancers; breast cancer being one of them- affecting 1 in 8 women in the UK alone. But what about men? Although men can in fact get breast cancer, testicular cancer is rarely mentioned. My own brother aged 15 didn’t know that men could get cancer in their testicles.

So what are the facts?…

Well, cases of testicular cancer have more than doubled in the last 40 years,  for seemingly no reason, with around 2,200 men being diagnosed in 2009 in the UK. It is the most common cancer in men aged between 15 and 44 years of age and advanced treatment for it now means that it is 95% curable when caught early. This is why it’s so vital for you to check yourself regularly for any irregularities, or even ask your partner to do it for you… swiftly moving on…

So how is it diagnosed?…

So, you found a lump on your testicle and you’re naturally concerned, the first thing you should do is set up an appointment with your doctor. Chances are it’s nothing but not getting it checked out when you find it could be the difference between it being treatable or too advanced to treat.

In this case ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’ is definitely relevant.

When you go and see your GP you’ll be asked about any symptoms and they will put you through a series of tests to establish if it’s anything you have to worry about. Most of these are just exactly what you’d expect; a physical examination, blood tests, possibly an ultrasound scan (no, they aren’t just used for babies) and often to confirm or rule out cancer completely they may perform a biopsy to take a sample of the tumour. They will only remove a testicle at this point if they are certain you have cancer. These tests will also tell the doctor what stage of cancer you have. Stage 1 means it’s been caught early and is isolated to that tumour, stage 2 means it has spread to your pelvis and abdomen, stage 3 means it has spread to your chest and stage 4 is that it has gotten into one of your other organs such as your lungs. Treatment once it has been identified may consist of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and will depend on what stage of cancer you have and what your doctor thinks is best for you.

All this sounds pretty scary right? And every time I read an article like this I want to book an appointment with my doctor and get a full head to toe body check, but, when cancer of any kind is caught early the survival rate rises and rises each year. Research and science have given us all the tools we need to fight back against cancer and the strength of some individuals and the support available is just inspirational, people such as Macmillan can support a patient and their family through every step of the way.

It’s Movember!

As it’s November there have been a lot of people taking part in an initiative called Movember where men grow a moustache and everyone raises charity money in support of men’s health. This raises awareness and money for research on issues just like male cancers. You can take part by simply making a donation and never forget to check yourself and make an appointment with your doctor if in doubt. Remember, the best way to fight it is to catch it early.

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