Cancer may not be everyone’s favorite topic, but knowing more about it can save your life. When it comes to testicular cancer, the success rate of treatment is high. Acting early and preventing the disease from spreading to the lymph nodes results in a cure rate of 96 percent. This type of cancer is rare, but it is more likely to develop in white males than blacks, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American males. Here are five important things you need to know:
1. Testicular cancer is highly curable.
A testicular cancer diagnosis may be devastating, but it is good to know that your chances of becoming cancer-free are still extremely high. About 95 percent of testicular cancer cases are treated successfully. If it was discovered and treated at an early stage, that number increases to 98 percent. The disease itself is rare. According to the American Cancer Society, it occurs in about one in 250 men. Meanwhile, the chance of dying from it is one in 5000.
2. Most men diagnosed with the disease can still have children.
The disease usually affects just one testicle. Surgery removes the affected area and prevents cancer from spreading. This will also allow your cancer care team whether you need simple surveillance, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Only one to two percent of men with testicular cancer get it in both testicles. Since you only need one testicle to produce sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone, having children is still possible. The unaffected testicle also typically makes a normal amount of sperm.
3. Men should start a monthly self-examination at age 15.
Although cancer of the testis can occur at any age, men ages 15 to 35 should be more careful about it. The best place to do this self-checkup is in the shower. It will be easier to notice any problems when the scrotal skin is thin and loose. Watch out for any lumps, swelling, pain, discomfort, or a feeling of heaviness there. The Testicular Cancer Society provides a simple guide for this. Let your doctor know about potential issues so you can have further tests.
4. Early detection saves lives.
Suppose you have a stage I seminoma – a tumor that develops slowly and stays within the testicle – the standard management would be blood work, observation with serial exams, CT scans, and chest x-rays. In this situation, the likelihood of a cure is virtually a hundred percent. Even if the cancer is metastatic, it is still curable with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
5. The chance of recurrence is extremely low.
Ideally, you will catch the problem early and get treated. Waiting and careful watching will be the post-operative plan. The recurrence of a low-stage tumor usually happens within the first two years. If you are cancer-free for longer, the chance of it coming back is just about one percent.
Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable diseases out there. With diligent appointments with your doctor, you shouldn’t run into trouble.