Health Q&A Focus:Testicular cancer

Learn what to watch out for with testicular cancer.

Health Q&A Focus:Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer (TC) most commonly affects men between the ages of 15 and 45, and rates have increased steadily over the last 20 years. Information nurse Robert Cornes, from male cancer charity Orchid, gives us the low-down.
What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?
The most common factor is a history of an undescended testicle. Even if this is corrected before puberty, the risk of developing TC is greater and around 10 per cent of men diagnosed have a history of it. If a brother has had TC the risk increases by 9–10 times, and if a father has had TC around 3–4 times. There is some evidence that taller men are more at risk. Men with HIV are more likely to develop TC.
What are the symptoms?
Most men will identify a pea-sized, painless lump which gradually increases in size. Pain, aching and discomfort can occur,
but this is rarer. Be aware of what is normal for you. One testicle may be slightly bigger or hang lower, and there is the epididymis behind the testicle – a small tube where sperm collect – which can sometimes be confused for an abnormality. Performing a testicular self-examination (TSE) once a month after a bath or shower when everything is relaxed is best.
What about treatment and support?
Whatever treatment is needed happens quickly and this means that life gets put on hold. One of the biggest problems is adjusting to life afterwards. Men need support, and a holistic approach through diet, exercise and sometimes counselling to fully readjust. Many men benefit from speaking to other men who have been through the disease.
What is the outlook?
If the cancer is confined to the testicle and no further treatment is required apart from orchidectomy (removal of the testicle), fertility should be normal, provided that the other testicle is functioning properly. If chemotherapy is needed after initial surgery, sperm banking will be advised. The good news is that if found at an early stage, a cure rate of 98 per cent is possible.

For more information, see the Orchid website at www.orchid-cancer.org.uk.

Share this page with your friends...