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Battling Testicular Cancer

Though curable, testicular cancer is often ignored by men who have it.

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Today, "I think there is an increased awareness because of the high profile cases," Uzzo says.

 

With cure rates so high, attention is now being directed to improving treatments. Specifically, doctors would like to find ways of minimizing risks to a patient's fertility. A position paper by the National Cancer Institute indicates that many (though not all) of those undergoing chemotherapy can sufficiently recover sperm production to allow a patient to father a child. Similarly, radiation treatment for spread of certain types of testicular cancer can cause fertility problems because of radiation spillover to the remaining (normal) testicle, but again, this may resolve in some patients. Fortunately, in both circumstances, if fertility recovers, there appears to be no increased risk of birth defects as a result.

 

Of course, there is no way to predict in advance who might be infertile. "Any cure can affect fertility," says Uzzo, noting that most patients bank their sperm before undergoing treatment. "While the No. 1 goal is to cure the patient of the disease, we are now concentrating our efforts on decreasing the morbidity of the types of treatment offered on fertility and minimizing any [problems] associated with chemotherapy."

 

Nass chose to have a child prior to having surgery, two rounds of chemotherapy, and radiation to cure his cancer. A year after the treatment, he's fully recovered but no closer to knowing why he became ill.

 

"The doctors told me that in my case there is no direct cause," says Nass, father of a baby boy.

 

Nass says all he wants to do now is focus on the future and on making others aware of the dangers of testicular cancer.

 

"It was the hand that I got dealt," he says. "I look at me now as an advocate for this cause. I definitely will continue to advocate awareness."

 

Bob Calandra is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in several magazines including People and Life. He lives in Glenside, Pa.

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