Medical Moment: Know the signs of testicular cancer

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 5:40 PM EST
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(WNDU) - February is National Cancer Prevention Month!

This is a good time to learn the cancer warning signs and steps we can take to lower cancer risk. For starters, did you know that testicular cancer is increasing among men aged 15 to 35?

It’s cancer that young men might overlook or, worse, ignore.

Two years ago, Fred Knight was just about to propose to his long-time sweetheart Kate. At age 26, cancer was the last thing he was thinking about.

“I was at work and felt a sharp pain in my right testicle and never felt something like that before,” Knight recalled.

Fred went to the local ER and then to another doctor.

Finally, a specialist gave him the diagnosis: Fred had testicular cancer and would need surgery to remove one testicle. But first, this young couple had some whirlwind decisions to make.

“We knew that kids were in the future,” Knight said. “We wanted that, but we were forced to think about it right then and there in that doctor’s office.”

“We do recommend all men who are going to get treatment for testicular cancer to bank sperm before they start on treatment, just to have that as a backup,” said Atish Choudhury, MD, PhD, a genitourinary oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Less than a week later, Fred had surgery. Four months later, the cancer came back, so doctors scheduled chemo.

“The chemotherapy for testicular cancer is very effective,” Dr. Choudhury explained. “It’s one of the cancers that you can cure completely with chemotherapy, even if it’s spread to other parts of the body.”

Chemo made Fred lose hair and gain weight, hitting 320 lbs. on his 6′7″ frame. But as he wrapped up treatment, Fred decided to prioritize his health.

“I found a local bike shop that had a massive, massive bike for me,” Knight said.

Fred now rides about 6,000 miles a year, and he and Kate hike together. In fact, after a two-year delay in April, Fred and Kate eloped to Yosemite National Park.

“Don’t worry about wedding planning,” Knight said. “Hire a photographer, go next to the waterfall, and say our vows to each other.”

After a two-year cancer journey, right now, it’s for better, not for worse.

“The healthiest I’ve ever been in my life,” Knight finished.

The survival rate for testicular cancer is very high, but it is important to have regular screening.

Doctors warn testicular cancer is not always painful, so men should be aware of any lumps or swelling, and should get anything unusual checked out.