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What we have to say about your health and well being
2
Nov 2015
Testicular Cancer by Shahed Miah

Testicular cancer, as the name suggests is cancer of the testes. Though the term cancer can be heard frequently in the context of different areas of the human body,testicular cancer is a less discussed subject, partly due to its scarcity. With around 2100 men diagnosed each year in the UK and accounting for only 1% of all cancers occurring in men , it is dwarfed by more frequently encountered cancers such as; lung, prostate or bowel cancer etc. Nevertheless, with the general increase in the incidence of testicular cancer in the UK since the 1970s, more awareness needs to be raised amongst the most susceptible group of men aged between 15 and 49.

Risk factors for testicular cancer

  • Family history of testicular cancer (e.g. father, brother)
  • Previous exposure to testicular cancer
  • Undescended testes at birth

Symptoms of testicular cancer

  • Presence of a painless lump on the testicles
  • Dull and heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • Pain in the back, groin, lower abdomen
  • Nipple or general breast tenderness
  • Enlargement of breast tissue
  • Pain in a testicle or scrotum

Role of pharmacists

Pharmacists can help provide advice and guidance to patients who may be at increased risk which may include:

  • Showing and/or explaining signs and symptoms indicative of testicular cancer
  • Demonstrating the correct self-examination technique
  • Providing smoking cessation and healthy lifestyle advice
  • Reassuring patients about prognosis and ruling out any common misconceptions they may have.

Common misconceptions

There are a number of factors that are commonly thought to be associated with testicular cancer such as; trauma to the testicles, bathing in hot baths or dressing in tight-fitted apparel. There is no reliable scientific evidence to confirm these beliefs.

Screening services

Unfortunately, unlike breast cancer no nationally recognised screening service is available to detect signs of testicular cancer. Detection is only verified after consulting with the GP or undertaking a biopsy.

Outlook following diagnosis

Testicular cancer is associated with a high survival rate with 96% of men being completely cured following diagnosis in its early stages. Furthermore, even more advanced cases of testicular cancer have a cure rate of 80%.

Take home message

If you are a young man between the ages of 15 to 49, you are at a greater risk of developing testicular cancer. Please take the time to undertake monthly self-examinations of your testes, as a detection of abnormal lumps on the testicles or experience of a dull ache in the scrotum, may warrant a consultation with the GP for further assessment.

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