April is Testicular Cancer Awareness month. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), testicular cancer is relatively rare . Roughly 1 out of every 250 men will develop the disease in their lifetime. However, the incidence rate of testicular cancer has been on the rise over the past several decades, and an estimated 9,310 men will be diagnosed in the United States this year.
Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor
One of the most important things you can do after being diagnosed is to have an ongoing, open dialogue with your doctor to make sure you stay informed and active about your care.
Here is a list of questions to bring to your appointment. Tip: bring a notebook to write down their answers, or plan to record them on your phone.
1. What coping mechanisms do you recommend?
A cancer diagnosis significantly impacts not only your physical health, but your mental and emotional well-being. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and considered normal reactions. Your health care team is an indispensable resource for helping you find the support you need to cope. And patients with more social support usually feel less anxious and depressed and report having a better quality of life.
2. What type of testicular cancer do I have and what stage is my tumor?
The better informed you are about your specific diagnosis, the better you'll be able to make decisions on your own behalf. There are two main types of testicular cancer , known as seminomas and non-seminomas. Knowing how advanced the cancer is, or what stage it's in, will also determine your treatment options.
3. What treatment plan is right for me?
The type of treatment your doctor will recommend will depend on your specific diagnosis and type of testicular cancer. Generally speaking, treatment options for testicular cancer include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
4. What lifestyle changes should I make?
The Testicular Cancer Foundation (TCF) urges all men to be advocates for their own health. This includes living a healthy lifestyle - a well-balanced diet and exercise. Additionally, TCF urges men to take their time and be patient when jumping back into work and daily life.
Your doctor will be able to give you specific diet and exercise recommendations that are best suited for you.
5. What are some of the biggest difficulties I might face after treatment?
Side effects and experiences vary widely from person to person and depend on your diagnosis. According to TCF, many survivors struggle with PTSD, depression, "feel as if they have lost their ‘manhood,' and fear re-occurrence. Some men struggle with infertility as well." Your doctor can help you find the best resources and support systems to improve your quality life after treatment.
Early detection of testicular cancer is critical and makes all the difference when it comes to treatment, recovery, and survival rate. In celebration of Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, take the opportunity to check yourself and get a physical exam today.