Testicular cancer is fairly rare, but it’s still important to be aware of the risks and how it might impact male fertility.
by Wyatt Myers
As far as cancer risks go, testicular cancer is pretty far down the list of concerns for men. According to the Urology Care Foundation, only about three in every 100,000 men will develop the cancer each year.
Still, there are a few reasons why testicular cancer is worthy of your attention. For one, the Mayo Clinic says it’s the most common form of cancer among young men. It impacts more 15- to 34-year-old boys and men than any other form of cancer. And second, it’s one of the most highly treatable forms of cancer. That makes it especially important to see a doctor if you recognize a warning sign. The doctor’s visit might just save your life.
Often, men and boys of this age are somewhat naïve when it comes to cancer risk. Put simply, they just don’t think it can happen to them. This often leads to a delay of up to five months in reporting any concerns to the doctor, says the Urology Care Foundation. But when the cancer is detected and treated early, good results typically follow. The cure rate for early stage testicular cancer is close to 100 percent, and it’s near 85 percent for even advanced stages of the disease.
Fortunately, the warning signs of testicular cancer are often easy to spot, so an occasional check is advisable for all men from time to time. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is swelling or enlargement of the testicle without any pain, which occurs in about 50 percent of cases. Another 25 to 50 percent of men may have a painful sensation in their testicle, and a dull ache is also common. The Mayo Clinic adds that other possible signs of testicular cancer include heaviness or fluid collection in the scrotum, or tenderness and enlargement of the breasts. If any of these signs or symptoms occur, it’s worth a visit with a doctor.
If a man does get testicular cancer, one major concern he might have is his fertility and future ability to father children. The American Cancer Society says that infertility is a possible risk of treatment for testicular cancer. As a result, men may want to discuss with a doctor the possibility of banking sperm samples prior to treatment. These samples can usually be frozen and stored for long periods of time and still be viable if the man wants to father a child later in life.
However, there is some good news when it comes to testicular cancer and fertility. Even if one testicle has to be removed to rid the body of cancer, most men can still achieve an erection, produce sperm and father children after the cancer has been treated. Sometimes the surrounding lymph nodes will also need to be removed, but the Urology Care Foundation says that surgeons now have cutting-edge “nerve-sparing” techniques that help to preserve a man’s sexual function after the procedure.
Other cancer treatments like chemotherapy also impact fertility, but the effects are usually temporary. The American Cancer Society adds that fertility typically returns about two years after the end of chemotherapy treatment.
About the author: Wyatt Myers is the father of two children and a writer for various sites and publications, including www.daddymdguides.com, in Des Moines, IA.