Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in young men between the ages of 15 and 35. Around the world, rates of testicular cancer have more than doubled over the past 40 years, and major health organizations estimate that 9,560 new cases of this cancer will be diagnosed in 2019. This guide will help you understand the major risk factors for testicular cancer and provide actionable steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Know the Risk Factors
Risk factors include things that could increase your chances of getting a particular disease. Known risk factors for testicular cancer include: having a family history of the disease, being 15 to 35 years of age and having an undescended testicle. Also, this cancer occurs more often in white males than it does in other patient populations.
If you smoke, quitting will reduce your chances of all cancers. Similarly, if you are overweight or obese, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight could help you avoid this disease. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can stress out the entire body and make you more prone to cancer growth when the cancer cells activate and begin growing. Recognizing the symptoms of testicular cancer could help you detect it early when it is more treatable, and this could save your life. If you have pain in the scrotum or testicles, a dull ache in the abdomen or groin or a lump or enlargement in either testicle, have these symptoms checked by your primary care doctor. In addition to the advice listed above, be sure to see your doctor about any changes in your general health, including persistent fatigue, unintentional weight loss or a cough that lasts more than three weeks.
To minimize your risk of testicular cancer, you may want to speak with your doctor about the potential cancer risks associated with certain medicines. Even the common medicine ibuprofen has been shown to have some link to testicular cancer when used in excess or with other medications in some people. In addition, research shows that medications such as angiotensin-receptor blockers could cause modest increases in a patient’s overall cancer risk. For patients who have already had cancer, alkylating agents are used in some forms of chemotherapy, including carmustine and cyclophosphamide, which could trigger the development of secondary leukemia. Patients should always ask their healthcare team about potential side effects before deciding to take a particular medicine and they should always follow all prescribed bloodwork, scans, and check-ups while on any medication that needs monitoring for side effects.
Have Regular Checkups
Even if you are not taking medications for other issue sor are not currently worried about cancer or other reproductive issues, it is important to maintain good communication with your health care provider and keep all scheduled well-checks. Testicular exams are included as part of routine physical examinations for men, and most doctors begin conducting these checks when patients are in their teens. The exams performed at regular checkups can detect potential signs of cancer early, and this could enable faster diagnosis and a simpler treatment plan. In addition to clinical exams, patients should perform monthly testicular self-exams from the ages of 17 through 40. Doctors can instruct patients in the proper technique for these exams.
Although age, race, biological disposition, genetics, and medical history are also risk factors, can’t control these factors. What you can control is how proactive you are. You can take healthy steps to reduce your testicular cancer risk. So be sure to talk to your doctor today about any concerns you may have!
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