Updated: Jul 21, 2022
So Movember is all about raising awareness of mens health issues, including testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer is pretty rare.
In the UK around 2,300 men are diagnosed each year. That's about 1 out of every 100 cancers (1%) diagnosed in men (Cancer research UK, 2020)
What a lot of my patients do not realise, is that it is a disease of the relatively young, with men in their 30's the most likely age group to get it. However, it can effect men as young as their teens and gets less likely as men get older.
So what are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of testicular cancer can be very similar to other issues that affect the testicles, like infections. The main sign is a lump or swelling located within the testicles. It can be small, like a pea, or it can be much bigger. This means that the absolute best thing you can do is check your testicles regularly or if you don't have any encourage the people you know with them, to check theirs. Here is a link to a booklet with more information on how to check and what to look for.
Causes and risks
It's not really known why testicular cancer develops, but there are some factors that increase risk of the disease. As with all cancers, things like smoking, diet, environment and genetics can be major risk factors, but the list below are particularly linked to testicular cancer .
Family history of testicular cancer
An undescended testicle
Carcinoma in situ of the testicle
Having had testicular cancer before
Being of a certain race/ethnicity
Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are the main 3 treatments for testicular cancer and the treatment recommended will very much depend on the type and stage of testicular cancer present. The very first treatment option will be to remove the effected testicle and replaced with an artificial testicle, usually made of silicone.
Most people are still fertile after having one testicle removed, but if they have experienced treatments such as chemotherapy, infertility may occur. Before treatment patients are usually advised to consider sperm banking, which is a process where health sperm is frozen to be used if the patient chooses to have children in the future. If a patient has one remaining testicle, this should make enough testosterone to ensure the patients levels remain normal. If not, then testosterone replacement therapy is considered.
Testicular cancer really is better treated sooner rather than later, so self examination is the absolute best thing for mens health and wellbeing. So men, if you are reading this please, please check yourselves and if you are reading this without any of your own, then spread the word to those you love to check theirs!