Intermountain Healthcare says prevention and awareness can go a long way to addressing the roughly 9,000 patients diagnosed per year with testicular cancers.
Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/17/2021 --A little attention can go a long way when it comes to many medical concerns -- a mentality that holds true in detecting the early signs of testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer is one of the more common cancers for men ages 18-35, with roughly 9,000 patients diagnosed per year, according to the American Cancer Society.
While that is significantly lower than the American Cancer Society's projections for approximately 250,000 diagnoses each of breast cancer and prostate cancer this year, it is worth the small amount of time it takes to check for signs.
"It's not something to be anxious or worried about, just aware of," said Dr. Spencer Ashton, radiation oncologist with Intermountain St. George Hospital.
Dr. Ashton said that in most cases self-screening is the best way to be aware of any abnormalities in the testicles.
"It doesn't have to be every day. Maybe just once a month," Ashton said. "It can be as simple as taking notice when you are doing regular hygienic cleaning in the shower."
Abnormalities such as a small lump or nodule should be addressed with the patient's primary care physician.
Although there are other abnormalities a person could feel in the scrotum that are not cancer, in most cases an ultrasound and blood work will be able to tell whether the growth is benign or malignant.
In cases where the pathology reveals cancer, surgery is the most likely next step.
"Generally, an orchiectomy is performed to remove the testicle," Dr. Ashton said. "Most often this is done as an outpatient procedure and does not require a hospital stay."
Since this type of cancer most frequently impacts younger males, concerns about post-surgery fertility and sexual function are common. In most cases the cancer involves only one testicle, and the remaining testicle can usually make enough testosterone to keep a patient healthy. However, fertility may be affected and should be discussed prior to initiating treatment.
"You can live with just one testicle," Dr. Ashton said. "Testosterone levels can be tracked to ensure they are adequate, with testosterone supplements available as needed."
Chemotherapy or radiation may be required after surgery depending on the stage of the cancer.
"When radiation is recommended, it is most commonly to treat the lymph nodes in the abdomen or pelvis. " Dr. Ashton added.
While testicular cancer can spread to other parts of the body, or metastasize, survival rates can still be high, Dr. Ashton said, noting Lance Armstrong as one example.
But Dr. Ashton also noted that having testicular cancer predisposes a patient to another cancer.
"In general, when I talk with patients, I tell them if there is not a strong family history of cancer, or genetic predisposition to cancer, then their risk of developing future cancer is not much greater than their neighbor who has never had cancer," Dr. Ashton said. "That's not universal, but in general. There are patients who have had multiple separate cancers, but those are the exception."
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About St. George Regional Hospital
St. George Regional Hospital is part of Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.