Most young men would not consider themselves at risk of cancer of any sort, so it might surprise you to know that testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 20 to 34.
The outcome is usually positive, with 95% of guys surviving, but of course that only happens if you get diagnosed and get treatment early on. This means that one in twenty guys don’t survive it. The secret to survival is getting diagnosed early.
You are at greater risk for testicular cancer if it’s in your family history, or if you had undescended testes at birth, but even without these risk factors you can still get it. By the way, there is absolutely no evidence that your mobile phone or your laptop computer increase your risk!
Testicular cancer is very treatable if diagnosed early, and is usually cured by a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. The affected testicle is surgically removed, but you can have a prosthesis (fake replacement) put in the sack so nothing looks out of order!
Your testicles are responsible for making testosterone and sperm, but removal of one of them doesn’t usually have a big impact on this function.
Early detection relies on you knowing your testicles intimately, and that means giving them a good feel once a month to check for lumps. The best way to do this is in a warm shower, just rolling each ball separately between your thumb and fingers.
Testicles can feel a little lumpy anyway unless you know what you’re feeling—there’s the testis which is the big lump, then the epididymis, which is the squishy thing behind.
If you notice something feels weird or different, don’t panic, just go to your doctor. They may get you to have an ultrasound scan to see what’s what. If cancer is suspected, you will have further scans and be referred to an oncologist (cancer specialist) and a urological surgeon, who will work out the best treatment for you.
If the cancer is detected early, treatment may simply be surgery, but if it has spread you will be offered chemo as well.
Last year over 800 Aussie guys died of testicular cancer, and most of them were in their 20s or 30s. Don’t become a statistic, start checking your balls—it could save your life!
Dr Fiona Bisshop specialises in LGBT health and is available by appointment at Holdsworth House Medical Brisbane. Call (07) 3894 0794 or visit the Holdsworth House website. For more details about any of these topics, visit Dr Fiona Bisshop’s website here or contact her on Twitter.