April Is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month
Men of any age can develop testicular cancer, but it is the most common type of cancer for men ages 15-35 years. More than 8,500 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Testicular cancer is among the most curable cancers, especially if diagnosed and treated in the early stages. For men receiving treatment for early testicular cancer, the five-year survival rate is greater than 95 percent.
There are several risk factors for testicular cancer. Caucasian men are at higher risk than Hispanics or African Americans. Men who had abnormal testicular development, including an undescended testicle, are at greater risk for the disease. Klinefelter’s syndrome is another risk factor. Men with a family history of testicular cancer, especially a father or brother, are more likely to develop the disease. Those who have had cancer in one testicle are more likely to develop it in the other one.
A common symptom of testicular cancer is an enlarged testicle or a pea-sized lump on the testicle. The lump may be painless. Some men my feel pain in the groin, lower abdomen, or back, while others may experience a heavy feeling in the scrotum. Some of these symptoms could also indicate an infection or a condition other than cancer, so it is important to see a doctor to determine the cause. While a testicular exam is part of a routine physical for men, it is also important for men to do a monthly self-examination to look for abnormal lumps.
Treatment for testicular cancer depends on the stage of the disease and the type of tumor. The affected testicle and surrounding lymph nodes are usually surgically removed. This procedure may be followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Even testicular cancer that has spread to other parts of the body can be successfully treated.
Men who have not had a recent testicular cancer screening should make an appointment to see their health care provider this month.