Doug is 55 years old which is a very atypical age for having testicular cancer. As his oncologist puts it, "It's a younger patients disease". The average age of diagnosis is 33 with about 6% occurring in children and teens and about 8% occurring in men over age 55. So, Dougs case is rare with about 2,000 cases a year reported. He also had no risk factors for developing this.
In August he felt a "lump" while in the shower. Painless and small, didn’t think twice about it. 3 days later he got hit out of the blue with severe pain while working. The next day an ER visit was inevitable due to the intensity of the pain that his wife was sure it was a torsion. To their surprise it was discovered in the ER that he had a 1cm mass on his right testicle.
Follow up with urology ruled out trauma. "You would remember a kick in the nuts", they said, and also ruled out infection. They tried, but no response from a round of antibiotics.
A follow up ultrasound was scheduled within a week and the mass had grown to 3 cm. Then the next week’s MRI was done, which showed even more growth. Follow up with the urologist on a Tuesday, he scheduled Dougs OR time for 2 days later. There was no time to waste.
On OR day he underwent a radical orchiectomy for removal of the right testicle. 3 weeks from discovery to OR, and in that time it grew from 1cm to 7cm.
Biopsy revealed 3 types of cancer cells present but the surgeon said the area looked great, and there were no signs of spread. A follow-up CT of abdomen thankfully showed no spread to the lymph nodes.
His oncologist told us that in Dougs case he had a 30% chance of recurence and we had 3 choices how to proceed. We chose a round of chemo lasting a month, figuring we would rather nip this now while younger and healthier, just in case it returned in his 60s or later.
Dougs tumor markers dropped impressively the month after surgery until a repeat blood test showed his markers climbing again. He now needed 4 rounds of a very aggressive chemo, which his oncologist coined as "barbaric", and would last 3 months.
Each scheduled treatment was 1 week, 5 days for 3.5 hours, which was then followed by a special immune boosting shot which makes you feel really awful on the 6th day.
Doug would then would get a 2 week reprieve from the chemo, to feel better about 5 days before the next round started and the cycle repeated. He has now finished his complete cycle and we now now wait on bloodwork to guide us to the next step.
Early detection is paramount. It has reinforced to us and many others how important it is to self check on a regular bases.