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Wellness Wednesday: What to know about testicular cancer

Posted at 8:22 AM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 10:22:26-05

IDAHO — During the pandemic, many people put off regular checkups with their dentist or doctor. That includes some critical appointments for chronic illnesses or even cancer.

One cancer, while rare, still poses a threat to a large portion of the population.

"Testes cancer is not exactly the most common cancer, but it's unique in that it affects primarily young men," explains Dr. Nicholas Kuntz, a urologist with the Idaho Urologic Institute. "The average age of diagnosis is roughly 33, and it's the most common cancer that affects men between the ages of 15 and 35 so it's one of those malignancies that affects primarily young and healthy men."

Dr. Kuntz says testes cancer can be asymptomatic and is typically diagnosed after men notice something abnormal during a self-examination.

"Primarily a hard mass of the testicle so they then present to their doctor and that subsequent diagnostic testing reveals that diagnosis."

Dr. Kuntz adds there aren't a lot of symptoms with this cancer, but other changes to look out for include:

  • A lump or enlargement in either testicle
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
  • A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum

Like with any cancer, someone may have certain factors that put them more at risk for developing testes cancer.

"Certainly if you have someone in your family or some congenital abnormalities, things that you would have been born with, are going to be risk factors, but again, this is largely sporadic and will affect 1 in 250 men sometime during their lifetime," says Dr. Kuntz.

Other factors could be linked to your age or race/ethnicity, but no matter your history, Dr. Kuntz encourages being aware and keeping up with self-exams.

"At least on a monthly basis, men between these ages should be performing self-exams. There's plenty of online content, YouTube videos, that can show you how to do that effectively, and certainly, myself or any one of our partners at the Idaho Urologic Institute can assist with that as well."

If you are diagnosed with testes cancer, there's a wide spectrum of treatment possibilities.

"The good news is, largely, it is curable, and very few men actually die of testes cancer. However, we know there is, on average, a nine-month delay in diagnosis so we know men are identifying abnormalities and then failing to see a healthcare provider. This could lead to worse outcomes overall. We know that early diagnosis and treatment are vital to optimal outcomes that include things like fertility," says Dr. Kuntz.

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