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Testicular Cancer Awareness Month: A Personal Story

As a part of Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, a member of our team has bravely offered to tell his story about discovering he had the disease and what he can expect next whilst fighting the disease.

Here is his story:

Before your diagnosis, were you aware of the symptoms and signs of testicular cancer?

I was vaguely aware of some of the symptoms however I mainly associated this to be in the form of a small lump, rather than a swelling, which in hindsight I now realise can also be a sign/symptom of Testicular Cancer.

How did you know that something was wrong?

Whilst showering I noticed that my right testicle was swollen and had increased quite quickly in size, I knew that something was wrong, however at this point I did not really think that it could be Testicular Cancer, I thought the swelling may have been caused by something else, perhaps a cyst or other build-up of fluid.

Did you discover the lump yourself?

I discovered the swelling myself, the actual lump was detected later during a physical examination and Ultrasound scan.

What was the first move you made?

Admittedly I left this for a while because I was not experiencing any pain and I thought that the swelling would eventually go down.  It was after a while when it became more obvious to me that this wouldn’t just go away and also when the swelling started to increase in size that I made an appointment to see my local GP to discuss the situation.

What was the process of speaking with a doctor like?

Speaking with the GP was fine, I was not embarrassed, I was just keen to find out what was wrong.  My GP explained to me that in the vast majority of cases a swelling or lump in the testicle is usually caused by something else non-cancerous, he asked me several questions, reviewed my medical history and conducted a physical examination.

What happened next?

As a result of the appointment with my GP, I was informed that this needed to be investigated further and I was referred to my local hospital for blood tests and also an Ultrasound scan.

The Radiologist who conducted the scan informed me there was a large lump within the testicle and no sign of any fluid build-up, based on these findings I was referred for an immediate appointment the same day with an Urologist. 

The Urologist explained to me that in his medical opinion based on the examination and Ultrasound Scan results it was highly likely that I have a cancerous tumour, I was then asked to have further blood tests (tumour markers) and booked in for a CT scan and also referred for an urgent Radical Orchidectomy (Operation to remove the testicle).   

What is your expected treatment?

Now that the operation has been completed successfully I am currently awaiting a further appointment with a Medical Oncology Team to give me the full staging/histology results although I have already been informed that the tumour was indeed a malignant Seminoma, which providing this turns out to be Stage 1, my further treatment will involve a single dose of adjuvant chemotherapy and/or surveillance.  If confirmed as a Stage 2 Seminoma then I will be looking at 3-4 courses of chemotherapy or possible radiotherapy.

What advice, if any, would you give to other men?

I would advise that men must perform regular self-checks, if they notice anything at all abnormal to go and see their GP immediately and not delay like I did.  I would also say not to ignore the signs or feel embarrassed, your health is far more important!  Testicular Cancer is quite rare however it is highly treatable providing it is found early enough.

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