April is an important month for our health as it is recognized as Testicular Cancer Awareness month. In addition, last year President Obama proclaimed April as the National Cancer Control Month. “Control” and “awareness” are two key words when it comes to the fight against cancer. Here are some of the risk factors that you can be aware of when it comes to testicular cancer, and ways that we can all fight to gain control over all cancerous diseases:
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 8,430 new cases of testicular cancer diagnosed in 2015, and about 380 deaths caused by testicular cancer. This cancer is treatable and curable with early diagnoses, so awareness of this cancer is crucial.
What are the Risk Factors for Testicular Cancer?
Age: The average age of males diagnosed with testicular cancer is about 33, and about half of testicular cancer cases occur in men between the ages of 20 and 34. However, though testicular cancer is often thought of as a young man’s cancer, it can affect males of any age from babies to the elderly.
Race: The risk of getting testicular cancer is about 4 to 5 times higher for white men than black or Asian-American men.
Undescended Testicle: Having an undescended testicle increases your risk for testicular cancer.
Family History: If a close relative such as your father or brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer, then your risk for getting testicular cancer is also increased.
Of course, these factors speak to the likeliness, but any man with or without increased risk factors can be diagnosed with testicular cancer.
The good news is that most testicular cancers can be detected at an early stage. Often a lump on the testicle is the first symptom, or the testicle may be swollen and enlarged. The best time to perform a self-examination of your testicles is after a bath or shower, because that is when the skin of the scrotum is most relaxed. Men should perform a self-examination on a regular basis, and any abnormalities of the testicle should be checked by a doctor for an early diagnosis.
Cancer Awareness and Cancer Control
Can cancer awareness lead to cancer control? As you can see from the risk factors of testicular cancer, there are many factors, such as age and race that we simply can’t control. However, there are some factors that we can control. These lifestyle factors are choices that we can make, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake and sun exposure, and refraining from smoking which can influence overall health and risk factors for many types of cancers. In addition, educating yourself regarding the risk factors, going to your doctor for an annual physical exam including cancer screenings, and scheduling an appointment as soon as you see or feel a physical abnormality will help you maintain as much control as possible in the fight against cancer.