Listen up: Testicular cancer is a ‘young man’s disease’

Cancer strikes individuals of all ages, but generally, it’s not something most people think about until they’re older.

Statistics from the American Cancer Society reinforce that perception, too.

The average age when a person is diagnosed with both lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, for instance, is 70. For men diagnosed with prostate cancer, the average age is 67. For kidney cancer, it’s 64.

Age is certainly a risk factor for many types of cancer. That’s why the average age for men diagnosed with testicular cancer is particularly shocking – 33.

“This is largely a disease of young and middle-aged men, but about 6% of cases occur in children and teens, and about 8% occur in men older than 55,” the American Cancer Society notes.

In fact, a recent post from the Mayo Clinic called it a “young man’s disease.”

Seniors should still be aware of their risks and symptoms, but testicular cancer is more of a concern for younger men at an age when many focus attention on their families and jobs, not necessarily their long-term health.

Prostate, colorectal, lung and skin cancer are still the most common types of cancer for men. About 1 in 250 men, though, will develop testicular cancer at some point during their lives.

The good news is that the five-year relative survival rate for testicular cancer is 95%. However, the key factor in beating any type of cancer is discovering it early and effectively treating the cancer. Doctors often group the severity of cancer by levels, ranging from Stage 1 to Stage 4, based on the tumor’s size and location. With testicular cancer, though, the description has three groupings:

Localized: cancer has not spread outside of the testicles.

Regional: cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Distant: cancer has spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs, liver or distant lymph nodes.

For decades, women have heard a consistent message about the importance of monthly self-exams to detect potential tumors in the breast, as well as regular mammograms starting at age 40 if they are at average risk. That same message doesn’t resonate as strong for men to conduct self-exams. The first symptom of testicular cancer is often a lump on the testicle or swelling, which men can discover by conducting a self-exam and simply knowing their bodies. Pain in the lower abdomen also is a symptom.

Advanced symptoms of testicular cancer include lower back pain, shortness of breath, coughing and headaches.

Technology to treat testicular cancer has rapidly advanced. That’s why the survival rate is so high. However, that success is contingent on discovering the cancer early.

With April being Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a great opportunity for men – especially those in their 20s, 30s and 40s – to start getting into the habit of completing monthly self-exams, not just for testicular cancer, but also skin cancer and other ailments.

About the Author

Dr. Elliot Blau, a diplomat of the American Board of Urology, is a board-certified urologist and fellowship-trained robotic surgeon with Precision Healthcare Specialists in Naples.

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This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.