Everything you need to know about testicular cancer

An expert urologist shares all the signs, symptoms and treatments of testicular cancer.

April is World Testicular cancer month, and we are rallying New Zealand women to talk to their husbands, brothers and sons about the prevalence of this disease, prevention and the importance of checking themselves.
Testicular Cancer is the most common cancer affecting men between the ages of 15 and 39, and sadly, awareness of this cancer, how to check for symptoms and early detection is shockingly low, especially within this younger demographic.
Surprisingly, there is a lot of confusion between Prostate Cancer and Testicular Cancer, with Prostate Cancer mainly affecting men over the age of 65, young men often confuse the two, with many believing they don’t have to think about genital cancers until they are much older.
To break through some of the common misconceptions and social stigma around Testicular Cancer, we sat down with urologist Stephen Mark who cleared up the facts and mistruths around the issue.

What is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month all about?

The aim of Testicular Cancer Awareness Month is to raise the profile of a condition which is common in men aged 25 – 45, where a self-examination plus early referral to a GP makes a real difference to outcomes and treatment.

What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?

The most common symptom is a painless, hard lump in or around the testicle.

How common is testicular cancer?

It is very uncommon but is the most common cancer affecting men between the ages of 15 and 39. The most at risk are men aged 25 - 45 years old and it is the most common cancer affecting men between the ages of 15 and 39.

What are some common myths or misconceptions about testicular cancer?

There are many misconceptions about Testicular Cancer, the most common is that being diagnosed with cancer is a death sentence. This is definitely not the case for the majority of Testicular Cancer cases. In fact, not all patients need chemotherapy and most patients live a normal length and quality of life.

What is the survival rate of testicular cancer?

The survival rate of Testicular Cancer is 95 per cent when the cancer has spread and 99 per cent when it is localised only and hasn’t spread.

How common is testicular cancer in New Zealand men?

There are approximately 100 new cases of Testicular Cancer per year in New Zealand.

How does testicular cancer affect fertility?

There is a higher risk of Testicular Cancer in less fertile men. Treatment may also affect fertility by the removal of one or both testis and chemotherapy. Occasionally, men are offered the option of considering sperm storage prior to treatment.

How can you check for testicular cancer?

The best way to check for Testicular Cancer is to carry out a self-examination (in the shower is often the easiest option). Gently squeeze each testicle and feel over the surface for any lumps, bumps, discomfort or swelling. The consistency should be rubbery and regular. You should also check the tubes at the back of the testicles for any lumps. If you’re worried about anything, get checked out by your GP.
WATCH: Flight of the Conchords' Jermaine Clement shares how to check yourself for testicular cancer

When should you see a doctor?

You should see a doctor if you find a lump in or around your testicles. Your GP will be able to advise whether an ultrasound is necessary.

How can testicular cancer be prevented?

Early diagnosis is the key, rather than prevention. However it has been proven that regular exercise can help reduce the risks of a number of cancers.

What support is available for people with testicular cancer?

The Cancer Society and the Prostate Cancer Foundation New Zealand/The Testicular Cancer Foundation New Zealand offer support for people affected by Testicular Cancer. There is also a new initiative from the Ministry of Health New Zealand for more psychological support for high risk cancer patients.
Click here for more information on Testicular Cancer and Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.