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Olympian's Cancer: Treat or Compete?

Eric Shanteau Delaying Testicular Cancer Treatment Until After Beijing Olympics

Reluctant to See a Doctor continued...

But Williams says public awareness about testicular cancer is growing, and that ignorance about it is "much less of a problem than it used to be."

People with testicular cancer don't necessarily feel ill, and being in Olympic shape is not a guarantee that cancer won't strike. Shanteau -- and Lance Armstrong -- prove that healthy people can get cancer.

"Most of these [cases] are just out of the blue. It's a random gene mutation. It could happen to anybody," Hrebinko says.

Hrebinko and Brawley urge men to seek medical attention if they notice any testicular abnormalities while showering, for instance. Those abnormalities are "usually painless swelling or firmness in the testicle," which may start as a pea-sized or lentil-sized lump, Hrebinko says.

How aggressive Shanteau's testicular cancer isn't clear. "It depends on the pathology," Brawley says. "There are a host of different kinds of testes cancer, some that need to be treated in 72 hours and some that are very slow growing."

Testicular cancer treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation.

"There are patients that we have who get surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, and there are patients who just get one or two of those," Brawley says. "It's going to depend on what the actual pathology is and what the actual stage or degree of spread is."

Will Shanteau still be able to compete in the Olympics?

"I think it would be something that would weigh on your mind a little bit but apparently it sounds like he's doing OK," Williams says. "From a physical point of view, the status of his disease is such that I don't think any symptoms of his disease would interfere with his competing."

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