Take care of your testicles

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Are you feeling a lump in either of your testes and heaviness? It’s time for a screening. Testicular cancer is a rare type of cancer – but real nonetheless. Common among men between the ages of 15 and 39, this type happens in your testicles which are responsible for your male sex hormones and the production of sperm. 

Your testicles are located in a loose bag of skin under your penis called the scrotum. It’s therefore important to go for screenings as soon as you’ve hit your puberty stage. Remember, screenings mean early prevention and treatment; giving you a better chance of beating the odds.

Are you at risk?
Family history, age and an abnormal development of testicles puts you at a great risk of developing the cancer.

Common concerns 

1. What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?
The cancer usually affects one testicle. It’s a pea sized, painless lump or swelling in either or both of your testes. You’ll feel aches and pains in your lower abdomen, groin or back and heaviness in your testicles.

2. Are there stages to this cancer?
Stage 1: The cancer is limited to one of your testicles.
Stage 2: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes (glands) in your tummy.
Stage 3: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Testicular cancer is commonly known to spread to the liver and lungs.

3. Can I function with one testicle?
According to the International Society of Sexual Medicine, one testicle is still able to produce enough testosterone and sperm to compensate for the removal of the other.

4. Will I be able to have sex again?
Yes, while your body is still able to produce testosterone, you’re still able to get an erection and ejaculate. When both testicles are removed it will affect your sexual function as the body isn’t able to produce the male hormone. It will decrease your libido and ultimately result in no erection. Testosterone replacement therapy can help put you back on track.

5. Is it curable?
Yes, it is treatable. The cure depends on a lot of factors, including your choice of treatment, overall health and the stage of cancer.

6. What are my treatment options?
• Surgery to remove your testicles
• Radiation therapy
• Chemotherapy
• Surgery to remove nearby lymph glands
• Stem cell transplant.

7. Should I preserve my fertility via sperm bank?
Most methods to prevent infertility need to happen before any cancer treatment begins. Your doctor can help you explore options to prevent fertility through:

  • Sperm banking
  • Protection of testes from radiation 
  • Testicular biopsy and aspiration: A specialised sperm-extraction technique

Testicular tissue freezing: For boys who haven’t been through puberty

8. Will I be able to have children?
Most men have one testicle removed and are still able to father children. According to the Cancer Research UK, treatments like chemotherapy and radiation to remove lymph glands in your abdomen, can put you at risk of permanent infertility and you might not be able to father children.  Treatment will vary for most.

9. Is sperm banking advisable?
Your doctor should offer you a chance to collect your sperm for banking before treatment. 

10. After treatment is there a chance that the cancer will reappear?
If there’s a relapse after treatment, tests will be repeated to check how well the treatment is working. A re-staging process will take place which involves check-ups and further tests. Your other testicle is at great risk of developing the cancer, so it’s important to go for regular check-ups and report any unusual symptoms to your doctor immediately. 

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