Several years ago a man from Connecticut unexpectedly died from testicular cancer while attending college in Pittsburgh. Major league baseball player John Kruk had felt discomfort for months, but waited almost a year before seeing a doctor and receiving the same diagnosis. In 1993, when he was barely 16 years old, my brother was told he had testicular cancer, and he too waited before telling anyone his testicle was growing larger. He’s cured now, but perhaps he could have avoided grueling chemotherapy treatments that summer if the tumor had been found sooner.
Like most cancers, the earlier a tumor in the testicle if found, the better a patient’s chances of being cured. Yet some men who notice something wrong don’t see a doctor right away.
Perhaps they don’t know how serious it is, or they may want to deny the seriousness of it, or maybe it’s too difficult to talk about such a sensitive area of their body. But testicular cancer is the most common cancer in man aged 20 to 34. It’s the third most common cancer in men 15 to 19, and the second most frequent cancer in men 35 to 39. It’s a young man’s disease, and about 350 American men die every year from it.
The good news is it’s much more curable now compared to 25 years ago. The majority of patients used to die from it, but with new chemotherapy drugs it has a 90 percent cure rate, or even higher with early detection. All men should know by the time they reach high school to check monthly for hard lumps, swelling or enlargements that were not on the testicle previously. The tumor can usually be felt once it is the size of a small pea. If you notice such a change, or have a feeling of heaviness in the testicle, you should see a doctor.
There are thousands of young men living in Hoboken and the rest of Hudson County, and they should all know to see a doctor if they notice a change in their testicles. All men between the ages of 15 and 45 should know this too. Testicular cancer is so easy to find, and if patients find it early, so many of them will be cured.