Testicular cancer is what you talk about in April and way after we are done with spreading the message on why you should protect your balls.
I am going to spare you the agony of defining what testicles are and just get straight into the details of testicular cancer. In case you had no idea April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month and just like breast cancer awareness month et al it is meant to create awareness about cancer that affects the testicles. Now everybody pay attention especially young men.
The prevalence of testicular cancer varies. The Kenya Association of Urological Surgeons has listed the facts on testicular lumps as detailed below;
What you need to know about testicular lumps?
- A majority of swellings in the scrotum are benign. So relax, no need for alarm.
- Testicular cancer is the commonest malignant tumour in men between 20 and 50 years old
- If you notice a lump that is attached to the testicle, it is probably benign
- If the lump is within the testis itself, there is a 90% chance that it is testicular cancer
- Early diagnosis and treatment mean that more than 95% of men can be cured of testicular cancer, even if it has spread beyond the testicle itself
Two types of tumours cause this disease namely; Seminoma (slow, less aggressive common among men aged above 35) and Non-seminoma (fast, more aggressive common in men aged 15-35).
The silver lining is that it is very treatable and depending on the type & stage, one can receive one of several treatments or a combination.
But before all that the big question is how do you know that you have this type of cancer, what are the symptoms? There are several symptoms and they are:
- A lump in either or both testicles
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
- Back pain
It is important to note that having these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have testicular cancer, having that in mind it is important to visit a doctor and get a second opinion just to be sure. This form of cancer usually affects one testicle; you can also do a self-examination on your testes which is the best method for early detection.
So what causes this type of cancer? Well, it is unclear in most cases although nearly all testicular cancers begin in the germ cells (the cells that produce immature sperm). It is unknown as to what causes germ cells to become abnormal and develop into cancer. There are several risk factors that may increase one’s odds of contracting testicular cancer and they are:
What Increases My Chances of Getting It?
There are a variety of things that might make you more likely to get testicular cancer. They include:
- Abnormal testicle/ testes didn’t form or descend normally.
- Family history. If for example the father or brother has had it.
- You’ve had testicular cancer before.
- HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
- Age (young men and teens are more susceptible)
This month of April, in support of Testicular cancer awareness, the thing to do is support where you can, test test test and wear blue, the symbolic colour for letting people know that this is a special month and we want more people to know about it.