BOSTON, MA. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — February is National Cancer Prevention month. A good time to learn the cancer warning signs and steps we can take to lower cancer risk. For starters, did you know that testicular cancer is increasing among men, age 15 to 35? It’s a cancer that young men might overlook or, at first, ignore.
Two years ago, Fred Knight was just about to propose to his long-time sweetheart Kate. At age 26, cancer was the last thing he was thinking about.
Fred says, “I was at work and felt a sharp pain in my right testicle and never felt something like that before.”
Fred went to the local ER, and then to another doctor. Finally, a specialist gave him the diagnosis.
Fred had testicular cancer and would need surgery to remove one testicle. But first, this young couple had some whirlwind decisions to make.
“We knew that kids were in the future. We wanted that, but we were forced to think about it right then and there in that doctor’s office.” Explains Fred.
Atish Choudhury, MD, PhD, Genitourinary Oncologist, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute says, “We do recommend all men who are going to get treatment for testicular cancer to bank sperm before they start on treatment, just to have that as a backup.”
Less than a week later, Fred had surgery. Four months later, the cancer came back, so doctors scheduled chemo.
Doctor Choudhury explains, “The chemotherapy for testicular cancer is very effective. It’s one of the cancers that you can cure completely with chemotherapy, even if it’s spread to other parts of the body.”
Chemo made Fred lose hair and gain weight, hitting 320 pounds on his six-foot-seven inch frame. But as he wrapped up treatment, Fred decided to prioritize his health.
“I found a local bike shop that had a massive, massive bike for me.” States Fred.
Fred now rides about 6,000 miles a year and he and Kate hike together. In fact, after a two-year delay, in April, Fred and Kate eloped to Yosemite national park.
Fred says “Don’t worry about wedding planning. Hire a photographer, go next to the waterfall, and say our vows to each other.”
After a two-year cancer journey, right now, it’s for better, not for worse.
Fred says, “The healthiest I’ve ever been in my life.”
Doctor Choudhury says the survival rate for testicular cancer is very high, about 95 percent, however, patients who have testicular cancer on one side have a two to four percent increased risk of developing cancer on the other side, so Doctor Choudhury says for those patients, it is important to undergo regular screening. Doctors also say testicular cancer is not always painful, so men should be aware of any lumps or swelling and should get anything unusual checked out.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer and Roque Correa, Editor.
TESTICULAR CANCER SIGNS: DEADLY TO IGNORE
BACKGROUND: Testicular cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers in men, particularly between ages 30 and 39. The average age of diagnosis is 33. However, the disease can occur at any age. Approximately 6% of cases are diagnosed in children and teens, and an estimated 8% of cases are diagnosed in men 56 or older. Testicular cancer is cancer that starts in the testicles. More than 90% of cancers of the testicle start in cells known as germ cells, or the cells that make sperm. The main types of germ cell tumors (GCTs) in the testicles are seminomas and non-seminomas. Seminomas tend to grow and spread more slowly than non-seminomas. Classical seminomas usually occur in men between 25 and 45, whereas spermatocytic seminomas are rare and tend to occur in older men.
SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS: On average, men wait about five months before reporting having any symptoms for testicular cancer. Since the tumor can spread during that time, it is vital to contact a urologist if symptoms are apparent. Signs of a testicular tumor can be a painless lump in the testicle (the most common sign); swelling of the testicle (with or without pain) or a feeling of weight in the scrotum; pain or a dull ache in the testicle, scrotum, or groin; and tenderness or changes in the male breast tissue. Very few men who have testicular cancer feel pain at first. There are some ways to diagnose testicular cancer. One is seeing a urologist for a physical exam. Another is a testicular ultrasound. This imaging test is used to see inside the scrotum and to check any suspicious lumps. Other scans or x-rays may be done if a doctor wants to see inside the chest or abdomen. A blood test can be taken to check tumor markers. These are proteins and hormones made by some testicular cancers. AFP, ACG and LDH tumor markers rise with some cancers, but many testicular cancers will not produce tumor markers. In other words, just because tumor markers are normal does not mean that you are free of cancer.
TESTICULAR CANCER PREVENTION: A new clinical trial has shown testicular cancer can be prevented from coming back using half the amount of chemotherapy that is currently used. The trial, led by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, involved nearly 250 men with early-stage testicular cancer at high risk of their cancer returning after surgery. In the study, patients were given one three-week cycle of a chemotherapy known as BEP – a combination of the drugs bleomycin, etoposide and the platinum agent cisplatin. Researchers looked at the percentage of men whose testicular cancer returned within two years of being treated with one cycle of chemotherapy and compared these relapse rates with established data from previous studies in patients who were given two cycles. Robert Huddart, Professor of Urological Cancer at the ICR, and Consultant in Urological Oncology at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said, “This new trial is already changing clinical practice on a global scale, and is set to improve patients’ quality of life as well as reducing the cost of testicular cancer treatment.”
* For More Information, Contact: Erica Hinsley
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