What started as a class project when he was a student in college, has turned into an important message about men's health for Christian Tanner, R.N., B.S.N., director of Emergency Services at Providence Medical Center and Saint John Hospital.
"I decided to do a health project on testicular cancer awareness and made a presentation to my fraternity brothers about the signs and symptoms of the disease," Tanner explains. "After hearing my presentation, one of my best friends told me a few days later that he had found a mass in one of his testicles. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with testicular cancer."
That was nearly 20 years ago. Tanner's friend is now a cancer survivor and the father of two, a true testimony to the importance of early detection and treatment. "My message had a lasting impact on the life of someone I knew. November is often recognized as a month for men's health awareness, and I want to take this opportunity to encourage young men to check for this disease," he says.
Testicular cancer is most common in men between the ages of 15 and 35. "That's a time when many young men are uncomfortable talking about cancer and self-exam, but it's something we have to do. This disease is 95 percent curable if found and treated early," Tanner says.
In fact, According to the American Cancer Society, 7,920 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed this year. The risk of dying from testicular cancer is about one in 5,000.
Most testicular cancers can be found at an early stage. In some men, early testicular cancers cause symptoms that lead them to seek medical attention. Most of the time a lump on the testicle is the first sign, or the testicle might be swollen or larger than normal. Some testicular cancers may not cause symptoms until reaching an advanced stage.
Most doctors agree that examining a man's testicles should be part of a general physical exam. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a testicular exam as part of a routine cancer-related checkup.
The ACS also advises men to take charge of their own health. "Today, we see messages everywhere about the importance of early breast cancer detection," Tanner says. "It's equally important to be aware of testicular cancer and to see a doctor right away if you find a lump in a testicle. Monthly self-examination can help you to become familiar with your body so that you know what is normal, and what is not. You should see your primary care provider immediately if you detect anything unusual."
For an informational screening card with detailed instructions on how to perform a testicular cancer self-examination, visit http://www.providencekc.com/documents/testcancercardsingle.pdf