by Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System
It isn’t something that’s talked about much in medical news. But testicular cancer is a reality for young men ages 15 to 35 years old. This age group of males typically does not feel the need to think about health problems and takes any kind of symptom lightly, leading to lack of diagnosis. And like most forms of cancer, the sooner it’s caught, the better the outcome typically is. That’s what makes prevention techniques and overall awareness so important.
Several organizations such as the Men’s Health Network, Men’s Health Initiative, and the Testicular Cancer Foundation have joined to form an awareness coalition in the month of April. Though testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men in the aforementioned age group, it has one of the highest survival rates.
The coalition’s intent is to provide cancer prevention messages to this age group of young men, in an effort to not only raise awareness but to provide ongoing support for survivors. Sometimes, though the cancer threat may be eliminated, patients and their families have lifelong wellness concerns, many of which involve sensitive topics which need to be addressed to improve quality of life.
Testicular cancer is less common in middle-aged and older men. Caucasian men are about five times more likely to develop testicular cancer than African American men. The rate among Hispanic men lies between those of African Americans and Caucasians.
In a 2011 published final recommendation statement from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s (USPSTF), a decision to recommend against testicular self-exams and against testicular cancer exams in a clinical setting puts men in the US at additional risk. Compounding this problem is the failure of the Affordable Care Act to provide regular preventive healthcare visits for men as are provided for women.
Encourage your male loved ones to know their risk, get comfortable with self-exams, and to find and maintain a relationship with a family practice provider who can help guide their wellness plan.
You can visit the Testicular Cancer Awareness Month website to learn more about how to do self-exams, warning signs, and treatment options, as well as further information about risk factors.