Understanding Testicular Cancer
- Felipe Soltero, 36, got the shock of his life when an injury from a boxing punch from his five-year-old son turned into a Stage 3 testicular cancer diagnosis.
- Testicular cancer symptoms can be subtle and the early symptoms such as a small mass in their testicle could be confused with an injury.
- Self examinations are incredibly important when it comes to screening for testicular cancer. Men aged 15 to 55 should perform a monthly self-examination to find any changes in the testes that might indicate cancer at an early stage.
“It hurt so much. I remember going down,” Soltero told City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment centers in the U.S., in an interview. “It was a pretty good blow.”Read More
He went for further testing, which revealed Stage 3 testicular cancer, “which is the only type of cancer with no Stage 4, even after metastasis,” reports City of Hope.
“That doctor sent me to a specialist, who did PET scans, and they discovered I not only had a mass in my testicles, but multiple masses in my abdomen and in my lungs,” said Soltero.
Treatment And Prognosis
Soltero’s treatment began with surgery to have the tumor in his testicle removed. After surgery he was told he needed chemotherapy to treat the other tumors, which led him to Dr. Mohammadbagher Ziari, a medical oncologist and hematologist at City of Hope.
Soltero was put on the BEP regime, or combination of the drugs Bleomycin, etoposide and cisplatin, which is a common first-line chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer.
He began his treatment in March of 2020, just as the COVID-19 lockdown began.
“I looked like a creature, you know. I had no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes,” said Soltero. He said he experienced nausea, dizziness, and felt weak and at times felt like quitting.
Zoltero’s doctor Ziari told him “‘I’m hitting it hard, but your body is doing well, and you’ll get through it,'” he said.
And he did. He’s been cancer free for more than a year now and can get back to his growing family. Zoltero and his wife Elena have five children, ranging in age from 3 to 16, with a sixth on the way.
Screening for Testicular Cancer
Testicular self-examination is one way to screen for this disease, Dr. Edwin Posadas, the medical director of the Urologic Oncology Program at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, previously told SurvivorNet.
“It takes less than a minute,” said Dr. Posadas. “Rub testicles through your fingers – looking for any sore areas. Rub the top of the testicle, particularly the delicate epididymis. (The epididymis is a tube at the back of the testicles which stores and carries sperm.)
“Don’t squeeze real hard on there… [You should] look for a smoother feel; if you feel a hard nodule on there, you may require blood work from a urologist. [Testicular cancer] is highly curable, even when it’s advanced.”
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Bradley McGregor, clinical director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, also emphasized the importance of self-examinations.
“It is recommended that men aged 15 to 55 perform a monthly self-examination to find any changes to help find the cancer at an early stage,” Dr. McGregor said. And if someone spots any of the early symptoms, “he should visit his doctor immediately.” It’s important to be aware of your body and get in touch with a doctor if you notice anything unusual.
“Testicular cancer commonly occurs from ages 20-45, but it can occur at any age,” Dr. McGregor continued. “The highest risk factor for testicular cancer is a history of cryptorchidism, an undescended testicle, where the testicle does not move down into the scrotum before birth. Men with a family history of testicular cancer are at increased risk as well. No lifestyle changes have been shown to definitively reduce risk of testicular cancer.”
With assistance from Abigail Seaberg