Testicular Cancer and Infertility – Know Your Risks

Testicular Cancer is the #1 most diagnosed cancer in men aged 15-34. Nearly 10,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed and 400 will die from TC this year.

New research shows that your sperm count and fertility may contribute more to your risk of developing testicular cancer than previously thought.

So for Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, Trak, along with the help of leading men’s underwear brand Tommy John, is spreading the #SupportYourBalls campaign to help men and their families understand the risks, warning signs, and best ways to prevent and defeat testicular cancer.  We’ll also let you know how YOU can help.

WHAT CAUSES TESTICULAR CANCER?

While the exact cause of a cancer diagnosis is often not known, researchers have identified several risk factorsthat place men at greater risk including having an undescended testicle or otherwise abnormal testicle development, and a family history of testicular cancer.  White men are also at 4 to 5 times greater risk than African-American or Asian-American men.

WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN INFERTILITY AND TESTICULAR CANCER?

Recent studies have shown that men diagnosed with infertility are TWICE as likely to develop testicular cancer than other men in the general population.  That’s a startling statistic that easily makes TC the cancer most closely linked with infertility in men, although studies have also shown that infertile men are more likely to develop prostate cancer later in life as well.

Perhaps the association between TC and infertility shouldn’t be all that surprising. Your testicles’ job is to constantly be producing sperm cells. If a tumor starts replicating inside of your testicle (instead of sperm cells), it makes sense that your sperm count would drop and fertility would become more challenging.

What may be surprising, however, is that the elevated cancer risk appears to apply to the relatives of infertile men as well.  A recent analysis found that male first-degree relatives of infertile men are also 52% more likely to develop TC, while there was no association for second-degree relatives.  The researchers suggest that there are likely several contributors to this familial link, including genetic, lifestyle, hormonal, and environmental factors.

So what does this mean for you?  If you have a Low sperm count (< 15 M/mL) and/or have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for a year or more, we highly recommend seeing a Urologist who specializes in male reproductive health.  It’s important not only for your fertility, but for your life as well.

HOW DO YOU SELF-CHECK FOR TC?

Testicular cancer has a 95%+ survival rate if detected early. And it’s one of the easiest cancers to check on your own.  So guys, make this part of your routine ASAP.

Check out the Testicular Cancer Foundation’s guide to self-checking.  We recommend checking yourself once a month or so, and if you feel something abnormal go see a Urologist right away.

If you’re testing your sperm count once a month with Trak anyway, what better time to do a quick testicle check and make sure everything’s smooth and functioning.

SPREAD THE WORD

We know, testicular cancer isn’t the most comfortable or enjoyable topic to discuss with your buddies and family. It’s right up there with sperm and other taboo topics that we at Trak are trying to bring out of the shadows.  But these are important issues to tackle to curb the ongoing men’s health epidemic and help more men take better care of themselves. Testicular cancer rates have nearly doubled over the past few decades and don’t seem to be slowing down. Start checking yourself, and tell the other men in your life to do it too.  Word of mouth is critical to helping more men get care when they need it and finally reversing this alarming trend.

Big thanks to our friends at Tommy John and the Testicular Cancer Foundation for spearheading this charge for men’s health. Also, be sure to check out TJ’s special TCF edition prints of boxer briefs here! They will be donating 5% of sales to help further fund care and research for testicular cancer.