College Men Take Note: Testicular Cancer Awareness

College students have unique student health needs and risks.  Student health centers exist in part because they offer convenient treatment options and they also possess expertise related to college life.  Likewise, GradGuard aims to be an authority on the unique risks facing college students so this article is meant to identify a form of cancer that impacts young men.

We’ve all read the articles debating whether or not men should wear tight pants for the sake of their health, but all controversy aside, there are some unsettling realities currently surrounding men’s health. According to the American Cancer Society, cases of testicular cancer are on the rise. So far in 2018 alone, there have been 9,310 new cases of testicular cancer.

However, statistically speaking, the disease isn’t that common – 1 in 250 men will be diagnosed in their lifetime, with the average age at the time of diagnosis being between 15-34, an age range many college students fall into. Thankfully, testicular cancer is also highly treatable and the mortality rate is very low at about 1 in 5,000. However, the key here is early detection.

Here are a few ways to help keep yourself, your friends, and your family aware and proactive about their testicular and overall health. 

Help Break the Stigma
The fact of the matter is, most men are too nervous or uncomfortable when it comes to approaching their doctors (or anyone) about the subject, and this perpetuates a general lack of awareness about the disease. In fact, 60% of men simply don’t go to the doctor. The less men know and talk about their health, the less they’re able to take proactive steps toward keeping it intact.

In an effort to un-taboo the subject of testicular cancer and men’s health in general, the Testicular Cancer Foundation (TCF) has partnered with e-commerce brand Tommy John. The brand’s claim to fame is their down-to-earth approach to men’s issues, most notably how they market their ‘no adjustment needed‘ underwear line using humor and relatability.

“We constantly strive to [shine] a light where the sun doesn’t shine and respect anyone that does the same,” says Tommy John. “TCF’s fearless, some might say ballsy approach, to confronting testicular cancer is a surefire way of focusing the world’s attention to the danger that is unfortunately common in men aged 15-34.” This group of men is even less likely to go see a doctor, given that they’re generally the most healthy age group.

While testicular cancer is certainly no laughing matter, it’s important to make men feel comfortable and confident enough to talk about their own bodies without shame or embarrassment. If that means having to crack more ball jokes, then we’re all for it.

Know The Risk Factors

While the direct cause of testicular cancer is unknown, there are a number of risk factors that can increase your chance of developing the disease. These include:

● A family history of testicular cancer, or having previously had it before
● An undescended testicle
● Carcinoma in situ (CIS) of the testicle
● Being between the ages 15 and 34
● Race and ethnicity
● HIV infection

Learn more about what these risk factors entail from the American Cancer Society.

Check Yourself
Most men are also unaware of the warning signs of testicular cancer, but early detection is key. When caught early, testicular cancer has a roughly 95-99% survival rate. While there is no evidence to suggest that self-exams would result in fewer men dying from testicular cancer, many doctors agree that self-exams are the most effective method of early detection and should be performed once a month.

Generally speaking, the goal is to become familiar with the usual shape and feel of your testicles and to look out for any changes. The most common symptom associated with testicular cancer is the presence of a lump. You might also notice a change in the size of a testicle, or feel an ache in either your testicle or scrotum. It’s also best to perform your check while you’re in the shower because your scrotum will be most relaxed.

Take the time to educate yourself, check yourself, and start spreading the word.