Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Testicular Cancer

Two athletes have put testicular cancer in the news this week.

Eric Shanteau, 24, went to the Olympics after finding out he had testicular cancer in June. He didn't qualify for the finals, but he did swim a personal best. Shortly after he returned home, Eric had the definitive surgery at Emory University Hospital. At this time, he does not need further treatment.

Lance Armstrong, perhaps the most famous testicular cancer survivor, announced this week that he will return to professional cycling. Armstrong was treated for testicular cancer in 1996. His cancer had spread to his lungs and brain. He had two surgeries. In the first, the cancerous testicle was removed and in the second, two brain lesions were removed. He then had four rounds of chemotherapy.

How common is testicular cancer?

It's the most common cancer in men between 15 and 35 years of age. There are about 8,000 new cases every year in the United States. The cure rate is at least 90 percent. It's higher if the cancer is limited to the testicle and lower if it has spread.

How is it detected?

Most often, it's detected by self-examination of the testicles. Any new lump or change should be checked by a physician.

What's the treatment?

The basic treatment is removal of the involved testicle. If cancer is limited to the testicle, this is Stage I and no further treatment may be needed. Stage II means the cancer has spread to the abdominal lymph nodes. Stage III, it's spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy is most often used to combat the spread with radiation reserved for certain cancers.

Is fertility retained with treatment?

It may not be if extensive treatment is needed. If removal of the involved testicle is all that is needed, fertility is most often left intact. Some chemotherapy results in infertility.

How is testicular cancer prevented?

It's not preventable, but if it's discovered early, the cure rate approaches 100 percent.Regular examination of the testicles is key. Experts recommend monthly exams after a warm shower. Bring any new lumps to the attention of your doctor immediately.

Source : NBC5 - Heath by Dr Mary Ann Malloy

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