Happy Testicular Cancer Awareness Month!
We got you something.
And that’s a testicular cancer primer from Connor O’Leary, the Testicular Cancer Foundation Chief Mission Officer and a testicular cancer survivor. The Austin-based TCF is the only full-time staffed testicular cancer group and leading provider of education materials in the country.
So below, a quick guide to testicular cancer early warning signs, why millennial white men have the most to worry about, and the best way to do a self-exam … with the singalong help a couple of animated testes.
Great advice and copious ball puns ahead.
InsideHook: Is there anything day-to-day I can do to prevent testicular cancer?
Connor O’Leary: Understanding your body and being an advocate for your own health is one of the most important things you can do. When caught early, TC is 99% beatable and can be treated with simple outpatient surgery. When the disease has spread outside the testicle(s), more invasive surgeries and treatment like chemotherapy and radiation are likely. Knowing your body and any changes you experience is the best prevention.
What are some early warning signs of testicular cancer?
Outside of the traditional warning signs like lumps and bumps, heaviness in the scrotum, change in shape, etc. there are additional warning signs to keep an eye on and may be less obvious, including; a dull ache in the abdomen or groin, enlargement or tenderness of the breasts and back pain.
When and how often should a man get checked?
We recommend doing a testicular self-exam once a month. We offer a free shower card to every household in America, that explains the TSE and the warning signs to look for. You can visit Testicularcancer.org to order a free shower card. We recommend if you feel any change, experience discomfort, or have questions to schedule an appointment with a urologist immediately.
Are there different types of testicular cancer?
There are two categories of Testicular Cancer: Seminoma and Non-Seminoma, and a host of subtypes that fall within those two categories, which include but are not limited to, Choriocarcinoma, Embryonal carcinoma, Yolk sac tumor, Teratoma, and more.
Are there at-risk populations for this type of cancer?
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in males ages 15-34; however, it can happen at any age. Statistics show that it is most common in white males. The risk is roughly 4 to 5 times higher in white men compared to that of black and Asian-American men. There is a new male diagnosed every hour, and one male dying every day from the disease.
Nad & Tad are two animated testes that your foundation is using to spread the word about testicular cancer. Their “How to Do a Self Exam” song is a total earworm. How did that concept came to be and why is it effective?
Nad and Tad was a collaboration between a few great groups — Testicular Cancer Foundation, Patient and Purpose and Nathan Love. The goal was to create a campaign that shifted the way people looked at the disease. Through humor and our BFFs (best ball friends) Nad and Tad, we have been able to change some of the dialogue surrounding testicular cancer. We’ve been able to raise additional awareness and education. There is often a stigma associated with testicular cancer, and this campaign has broken down many of the barriers traditionally associated with talking about the disease.
What are the biggest fears people have about testicular cancer?
The first thing we see that causes fear is a lack of knowledge. We do our best when a newly diagnosed patient or caregiver reaches out to TCF, to give them the facts, put them in touch with someone who has personally been through the disease (either another survivor or caregiver), that can provide first hand, one-on-one support, and ensure they are comfortable with the direction they are headed.
One of the specific fears we see is in regards to losing a testicle. Losing a testicle can cause fear about appearance and spur questions like “Will I be able to have children?” It should be noted that the removal of one testicle traditionally does not affect the sperm-producing capabilities of the remaining testicle. That being said, there can be temporary or permanent lower sperm counts associated with additional treatments. When that is the case, we recommend banking/freezing sperm.
How long does treatment last? Are there side effects from treatment?Treatment varies depending on the stage of cancer. If found in stage 1, testicular cancer can often be treated by a simple outpatient surgery with minimal recovery time. This is why we urge men to perform a self-exam once a month. If found in later stages, additional surgeries, chemotherapy or radiation are likely, all with their own set of potential side-effects.
Should I get a second opinion?
Although we do not offer any type of medical advice, we always recommend men diagnosed with testicular cancer (and their caregiver) become advocates for their own health. This includes receiving second opinions. Understanding your diagnosis, receiving all possible information and learning what your options are when diagnosed with testicular cancer is always recommended.