Battling Testicular Cancer
Though curable, testicular cancer is often ignored by men who have it.
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
Bob Calandra is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in
several magazines including People and Life. He lives in