What You Need to Know About Testicular Cancer
April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month! Like many diseases, awareness is key to prevention and catching it early. This is especially true with testicular cancer. Whereas other cancers can be tied to lifestyle choices such as smoking and consumption habits, testicular cancer has very few known risk factors, and those that are known are usually uncontrollable. Therefore, it’s imperative to spread awareness about monthly testicular self-exams.
Due to the stigma surrounding the issue or a lack of education, a large number of men have never conducted a testicular self-exam. Yet, testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed between men ages 15-44 in the United States. Starting at adolescence and well through adulthood, men should be checking their testicular health on a monthly basis. Developing a routine can help to quickly recognize the formation of any lumps, in which case a doctor should be contacted immediately. When diagnosed and treated early, testicular cancer has a 97% survival rate.
Although typically present as a lump in the testicles, other symptoms to look out for include: heaviness or pressure in the scrotum, change in size of testicle or firmness, swelling in legs, lower back pain, and tissue growth or tenderness in breasts.
Treatment may include the removal of one or both testicles, as well as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Despite all of this, most men can resume effective and pleasurable sex lives after their treatment. Just to be safe, men can preserve their sperm prior to treatment if they plan on having children. However, even with only one testicle, fertility may return two years after treatment stops.
The same can be said for the ability to achieve an erection. Testicular cancer should not cause erectile dysfunction. For men who had both testicles removed, testosterone replacement therapy can restore erections and sex drive. In any case, erectile dysfunction is still possible regardless of the cancer and treatment, in which case medication for ED may be prescribed by a doctor.
Despite its prevalence amongst young men in the United States, testicular cancer can be highly treatable. By spreading awareness, the disease can be caught earlier and often. A doctor should be contacted immediately if testicles feel unusual or symptoms are prevalent for more than two weeks.