- April is Testicular Cancer Awareness MonthAwareness is one of the best measures that one can take to “prevent” testicular cancer. The disease is not actually preventable because the cause is typically unclear and most known risk factors uncontrollable; such as family history, race, and abnormal testicular development. That’s why awareness is so important.The closest we can come to prevention is early detection, which requires awareness on the issue. Every man should conduct a monthly testicular self-exam. However, many men do not know the importance of self-exams or even how to perform one. By spreading awareness, the odds of increasing early detection are better.
- Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancerThe reason why early detection is imperative is because there is a 97 percent survival rate when testicular cancer is treated rapidly. Luckily, even in the latter stages of the disease, the cancer is still very treatable depending on how far it has travelled. If the disease has been contained to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is still well above 90 percent. However, once cancer has travelled to distant areas of the body, the 5-year survival rate drops to 71 percent.In most cases, the cancerous testicle will be removed. It is uncommon that both testicles will be removed, but still a possibility. In later stages of the disease, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be required as well.
- It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for young men in the United StatesIt is estimated that roughly 9,500 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer per year in the United States. Out of those men, more than 400 will die from the disease. To put it in context, that means that once an hour, a man will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. It also means that on average, a man will die every day from the disease.The most common age range for diagnosis is 15 to 44 years old, with an average age of 33. However, it is still possible to be diagnosed before puberty and after men turn 55 years old.
- Men can still lead healthy sex lives after treatmentIt’s certainly not great news to lose a testicle, but the good news is that even after doing so, most men can still lead functional and enjoyable sex lives. Libido may decrease for a time following treatment, but should return after a full recovery. The same can be said for the ability to achieve and maintain an erection.Losing a testicle will not cause erectile dysfunction. Although a loss of testosterone would normally cause erectile dysfunction, even with both testicles removed, testosterone replacement therapy can be used to manage healthy levels. Any difficulties with radiotherapy or naturally occurring erectile dysfunction can be treated by a doctor.
- Fertility is still possible despite cancerPreserving sperm prior to treatment is the best guarantee that fathering children will still be a possibility for men diagnosed with testicular cancer. Fertility is still possible, but not guaranteed after the removal of a testicle. It may take several months for fertility to be restored after treatment, but most men will have no issue with just one testicle.In some cases, the remaining testicle may not perform as well, making things more difficult. In any case, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other methods may be able to help. However, if a man loses both testicles to cancer, he is undoubtedly infertile. That is why sperm banking beforehand is imperative, even if the man decides not to have children. He will always have the option.
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