GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - This week in our Real Men Wear Gowns campaign we're talking about testicular cancer.
“Testes cancer is a disease of younger men. Peak incidence is of those men under the age of 35,” says Dr. Laurence O'Connor, a Urologist at Health Partners. O’Connor says about 7,500 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year in the U.S.
He says men should be doing self-exams starting around the age of 21 to check for lumps.
“Testes cancer usually shows up as a rock hard knot or a marble that's in the meat of the testicle. If you have something like that that's new that you haven't noticed before, that's abnormal and you should have it looked at,” he says.
The outlook is promising if you're diagnosed. Dr. O'Connor says about 95% of men who have it are cured with some sort of treatment.
“Unfortunately the most important part of the treatment is to remove the cancer and so that involves actually removing that testicle. Fortunately we have two of them and so most men really have no functional consequences after one of them is removed and they have another one that picks up the slack, so to speak, and takes care of things from a hormone standpoint,” he says.
Dr. O’Connor says there are ways to preserve sperm before a man’s testicle is removed to increase the likelihood of having children in the future.
He says testicular cancer can't really be prevented, but there are certain people that may be more susceptible to it.
“Those that were born and one of the testicles didn't come all the way down into the scrotum. Usually those testicles are brought down into the scrotum with a small surgery when you're a baby and those testicles are at a slightly increased risk for developing testes cancer and need to be watched with self-examinations regularly,” Dr. O’Connor says.