Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men. According to Cancer Research UK there are more than six new cases everyday.
Macmillan Cancer Support say that this cancer can affect anyone who has testicles, including men, transgender (trans) women, and people assigned male at birth. Testicular cancer is most common in people between 25 and 40. Each year in the UK, around 2,300 people are diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer has a survival rate of over 90%. There are no known preventable causes linked to the risk of developing testicular cancer so early diagnosis is crucial.
Movember is a leading charity challenging perspectives about men’s health, including testicular cancer.
Kingston Courier sat down with three men, Jay, Jordan, and Joe to discuss Movember and testicular cancer.
Jordan remembers being introduced to Movember when he was in school and his science teacher grew a moustache to take part in fundraising whilst going through cancer himself. After his teacher passed away, other teachers would continue to fundraise every November.
Jay and Joe only know of the campaign from its iconic moustaches imagery. They know the organisation fundraises for men, men’s mental health and cancer which affects men.
We got onto the topic of testicular cancer, and all three men were unaware of the statistics associated with testicular cancer.
The men unanimously agreed they knew they needed to check for lumps, but couldn’t confidently say what the other symptoms might be.
Jordan and Joe said that they checked themselves regularly, although perhaps not as regularly as recommended. The NHS recommends checking once a month.
Jay however, said he had only checked himself once, and when he checked himself, he found a lump.
Recalling the entire process of going to the doctors, Jay said it was: “F***ing horrible.”
He sat in the waiting room and was first surprised, and then a little bit hesitant when a female doctor called him into the consultation room.
After a consultation where the doctor assessed his testicles, Jay was referred for another appointment.
On his next consultation, Jay was greeted by two male doctors in the waiting room, and invited into a private office.
Jay admitted he felt slightly less intimidated at the prospect of being assessed by men. He said “I know they are all doctors, but there is something about having a man that just makes it feel like they know what you’re going through.”
This was until the men laughed at him.
Jay said the consultation had come to an end, and through a slight chuckle, the doctor told him he was absolutely fine, and that what he felt was entirely normal.
Although Jay is sure that the doctor chuckled to diffuse the tension, Jay felt a little odd. He realised how little he knew about male autonomy, and what he should be looking for as warning signs.
Jay sheepishly said he has not checked himself since.
He was thoughtful for a moment and said: “Maybe something to do with it is that if you don’t check, you won’t ever find anything.”
Jay is no stranger to health concerns having grown up with Crohn’s Disease, which is a long-term immune disorder which affects inflammation in the gut.
He goes to hospital every eight-weeks for an assessment and drip to strengthen his immune system.
He joked that over the years doctors have seen everything.
When asked if it felt different going to doctors to check for a lump on his genitals he said: “It was weird going for something different [to Crohn’s] it was much more intimate.”
Jay continued: “I reluctantly went because it was so embarrassing and I knew I couldn’t go to friends for this one.”
As to whether they would feel comfortable to go to friends about a medical concern, Joe said his friendship group is mostly women: “Women are better at talking about it, women give you a better response because there is still discomfort in men talking about it.”
He continued: “I don’t know how much I would open up to the men in my life about some health issues.”
Jordan said that men do not have the same drive as women to talk and be sympathetic about health.
Jordan considers that out of date stereotypes might still be influencing genders behaviour today, he said: “Does this go back to the stereotype of men going to work and women staying at home and as the caregiver? So they [women] dealt with more of this. Inherently they are more maternal and nurturing.”
Unanimously, all three agreed that stereotypes of men are out of date and the concept of how to be a man is changing. They agreed that ripple effects from the past still stop some men from feeling like they can talk about their problems and ask for help.
About going to the doctors for help as a man, Jay said: “Illness is no one’s fault. Illness doesn’t make you less of a man, I’d never be ashamed of it.”