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Testicular Cancer Awareness

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 10,000 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in 2018. However, when detected early, testicular cancer is highly treatable. To learn more about risk factors and other components of testicular cancer, we spoke with Dr. Melanie Ketchandji, urologist with Utica Park Clinic.

“First and foremost, it’s important to know about the testicles and what they do,” said Dr. Ketchandji. “The testicles form in the abdomen before a child is born. For most men, they move down into the scrotum by the time of birth. The testicles have two jobs: producing testosterone and sperm, which is required for fertility.”

Oftentimes, testicular cancer is referred to as the “young man’s cancer.” “Most testicular cancer cases are in seen in men between the ages of 20 and 34,” stated Dr. Ketchandji. “There’s a rare form that we do see in older men, usually between the ages of 55 and 60, but most cases are in younger men.”

There are several risk factors associated with testicular cancer. “A major risk factor is an undescended testicle,” explained Dr. Ketchandji. “This happens when a testicle does not descend into the scrotum and is still living within the abdomen. Having a family member who had testicular cancer (father, brother, etc.) also puts you at great risk. We also see more cases of testicular cancer in Caucasian men than we do in African Americans or Asian Americans, so race does play a part. And, as previously stated, being between the ages of 20 and 34.”

Testicular cancer symptoms vary depending on the case. “Swelling of the testicles is the most common symptom,” explained Dr. Ketchandji. “For some men, they will have back pain, weight loss or a fever, but these symptoms tend to be in more advanced cases. Some testicular cancers produce hormones which cause swelling and tenderness of the breasts. If this is something you are experiencing, visit your doctor.”

Unlike many other forms of cancer, testicular cancer cannot be prevented. “Most often, you cannot prevent testicular cancer because the risk factors are things you absolutely cannot change,” stated Dr. Ketchandji. “Early detection and treatment is really the key. If you ever had testicular swelling or a mass in your testicles, it is extremely important to get it checked by an urologist or to see your primary care physician for a referral. Rarely is a mass inside the testicle not testicular cancer. If you feel scrotum swelling, pay close attention to that as well, and get it looked at if it continues.”

Options for testicular cancer treatment vary. “In early diagnosis, the typical treatment is testicle removal,” said Dr. Ketchandji. “For most cancers that are primarily localized in the testicles, removing the testicle is all most men need, followed by surveillance to look for any form of reoccurrence. In some men, depending on the type of testicular cancer, we perform surgery and the patient will undergo radiation or chemotherapy. Treatment is really decided by the patient and his team of providers, which would usually include an urologist, oncologist and sometimes a radiation oncologist.”

If you experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, we encourage you to see your primary care physician. If you do not have a primary care physician, call 918-579-3627 to schedule an appointment with a Utica Park Clinic physician.