Testicular Cancer Awareness Month
This April, UF Health celebrates Testicular Cancer Awareness Month to inform and spread awareness about the importance of understanding this disease. Testicular cancer occurs when cancer cells form in one or both testicles and about 9,600 new cases are expected to be diagnosed this year in the U.S., primarily affecting young men in their late teens through early thirties.
The cancer usually presents itself as a mass, which may be accompanied by pain or swelling in the testicle(s). However, one of the biggest issues surrounding testicular cancer is patients waiting too long to be seen by a physician. According to Dr. Padraic O’Malley, MSc, MD, FRCSC, the time between when a patient identifies an unusual mass and when they seek medical attention is critical.
“The sooner we can identify the cancer, the more we can limit the amount of treatment the patient will need,” Dr. O’Malley said.
Since early detection is vital, monthly self-examinations are recommended to stay aware of any potential abnormalities. Once diagnosed, testicular tumors are removed in an outpatient surgical procedure, and the patient then goes through blood work and a CT scan. UF Health provides testicular cancer patients with a multidisciplinary group approach to evaluate these results and help the patient make any additional treatment decisions necessary based on the advancement of their disease. Survival outcomes are excellent for most men with testicular cancer and self-examination may not decrease this, but it may decrease the need for additional therapies, including chemotherapy, radiation or more invasive surgery.
“We work closely with the infertility group to encourage patients to bank their sperm,” Dr. O’Malley said. “Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation can affect fertility in some cases, but we work to encourage them to consider their future fertility desires.”
While these might not always be the easiest conversations, Dr. O’Malley walks patients through the process and common misconceptions through initial counseling. One of the most common concerns is the cancer’s effect on libido, masculinity and erectile function, which still remain healthy following surgery and treatment.
The best way to handle testicular cancer is being proactive. When a patient notices any unusual mass, Dr. O’Malley advises not waiting and expecting it to just go away. Early detection is crucial in tackling testicular cancer, and UF Health provides these guidelines for monthly self-examinations.