Living Post Testicular Cancer
According to latest data reported by American Cancer Society, it has been estimated that approximately 8,720 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the year 2016. In addition, despite latest technological advancements, about 380 men will succumb to this malignancy (1). Although, over the course of past few years, a significant rise in the incidence of testicular cancer has been reported globally, it is not a common cause of morbidity and mortality in men. It is believed that the lifetime risk of developing testicular cancer is 1 in 263.
Testicular Cancer – Epidemiology
Unlike most common malignant lesions, testicular cancer is reported mostly in younger men (only 7% cases are reported in men over the age of 55 years). Based on the clinical data, mean age at which testicular cancer is diagnosed is 33 years. In addition, approximately 7% of all the cases of testicular cancer are reported in teens/ adolescents.
This also denotes that testicular cancer is associated with fairly high morbidity and emotional trauma; primarily due to younger age at diagnosis. But you should know that:
- Early diagnosis and prompt management is associated with excellent prognosis; i.e. only 1 in 500 patients actually die of cancer/ cancer related complications.
- Young patients respond more readily to the treatment options due to lower risk of comorbid health issues.
- The overall prognosis and long-term survival of testicular cancer is excellent; even if cancer has spread outside of testicles.
Treatment Of Testicular Cancer And Physical Complications
Depending upon treatment options employed, the cancer survivor may develop varying degree of complications such as:
- Post-Chemotherapy and Post-Radiotherapy complications depending upon the dosing and duration of therapy.
- Erectile dysfunction and sexual dysfunction (3)
- Depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem
- Fatigue and poor energy levels
- Incontinence and other urinary complaints
Living Post Testicular Cancer – What To Expect?
Depending upon the staging and grading of cancer cells, your doctor may suggest a variety of treatment options (sometimescombination of treatments). Needless to say that health and wellness journey for a testicular cancer patient is not easy, unless you find reliable support and help from your loved ones and medical team.
Here are some coping tips to make your wellness journey smoother:
- Accept and learn more about your illness: Denying the cancer or expecting a miracle is futile. It is strongly advised to take charge of your health and learn more about the cancer in order to make informed decisions regarding your treatment. Besides your oncologist and medical team, you can also use the help from volunteer groups, internet and other non-government organizations.
- Join a support group: Battling a serious illness like testicular cancer is an emotionally draining procedure that may make you feel unsure and insecure for your future. It is always a good idea to connect with other cancer survivors for moral support and to learn more about the illness as well as treatment journey and inspirational success stories. You can use online portals, hospital support groups and forums of American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute to connect with other cancer patients/ survivors.
- Stay in touch with your loved-ones: Don’t feel hesitant to ask for help and support of family and friends as this period is definitely stressful and emotionally draining. Maintain a social lifestyle and spend time with loved-ones to make your journey much easier.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices: Make sure to incorporate healthy habits such as increasing the intake of fresh and organic foods, limiting the intake of chemicals and hazardous agents (such as cigarette smoke, alcoholic beverages, artificial colors and flavors etc.) and maintaining your body weight under recommended range are some ideal tips that must be followed.
- Keep up with follow-up visits: Even after completely recovering from the cancer, it is very important to keep up with your follow-up visits. This is mainly because, your doctor will not only check for recurrence/ concealed metastatic lesions but also assess your health to detect if you have developed any therapy-related complications. Depending upon your primary lesions, your doctor will also advise follow-up tests to stay on top (for example, if you had a non-seminoma tumor, hormonal tests like lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) or other tumor markers will be advised. In case of a seminoma tumor, radiological tests are usually advised.
2. Hoyt, M. A., Nelson, C. J., Darabos, K., Marín‐Chollom, A., & Stanton, A. L. (2016). Mechanisms of navigating goals after testicular cancer: meaning and emotion regulation. Psycho‐Oncology.
3. Jacobsen, K. D., Ous, S., Waehre, H., Trasti, H., Stenwig, A. E., Lien, H. H., … & Fosså, S. D. (1999). Ejaculation in testicular cancer patients after post-chemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection. British journal of cancer, 80(1-2), 249.