Testicular Cancer- Basics to Know
Testicular cancer is rare but curable when diagnosed early so there are a few facts everyone with an adolescent son or relative should know.
It is the most common cancer in young adult men between age 15-35. It is very rare in African American men and is more common in men who have an undescended testicle. Testicular cancer is almost always detected by the patient himself. Young men entering adolescents should be taught how to examine their own testicles just like women learn breast exam.
Testicles are smooth and easy to examine, unlike breasts that change with menstrual cycles. The self-exam is best performed after a shower when the scrotum is relaxed and easy to palpate. Men should be alert for nodules, swelling, enlargement or tenderness. Pain is only present 50% of the time so a painless lump should be seen by the doctor.
Testicular cancer has three stages. Stage 1 involves just the testes. Stage 2 patients have disease that has spread through lymphatics but remains close to the pelvis. Stage 3 patients have disease that has spread to other organs or distant lymph nodes. Even Stage 3 patients have a good chance of cure with modern treatment of orchiectomy (testicle removal), radiation and chemotherapy.
The take home message for testicular cancer early detection is to educate young men about self exam just like we educate young women. Most testes nodules are NOT cancer but every change from smooth should be promptly evaluated by a physician. It is a highly curable disease and one of the successes of modern medicine.
By the way, for a really inspiring read, pick up "Its Not About the Bike" by Lance Armstrong.