Ask the Doctor: Jeffrey Bassett, M.D., MPH

Q: How common is testicular cancer, and is there a way to detect it early?

A. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 18 to 44. The causes are unknown, but men of European ancestry or who are born with undescended testicles are at higher risk.

Fortunately, when detected early and treated promptly, testicular cancer is highly curable. Greater than 95% of men conquer their cancer, without impacting their testosterone levels or ability to have children going forward.

Unfortunately, for many men the diagnosis of testicular cancer is not made until the cancer has spread from the testicle to other areas in the body. These men can still be cured, but achieving this will usually require multiple different treatments over an extended period of time.

Detecting testicular cancer early starts at home. If you’re a man between the ages of 18 to 44, perform a testicular self-exam once a month. If you don’t know how to perform a self-exam, ask your doctor or contact Hoag’s urology care coordinators who can direct you to a step-by-step guide. If you feel any area of the testicular that is hard compared to the rest, or notice any significant changes in size over time, speak to your doctor.

Losing even one man to testicular cancer is devastating. These are husbands, fathers, and/or sons. Together we can change this.

If you have already been diagnosed with testicular cancer, or are diagnosed with it in the future, know that there is hope. There is help. With early detection and timely treatment, this is a curable disease.

Jeffrey Bassett, M.D., M.P.H., specializes in urology.