A chance occurrence changed Bill Pooley’s life.
“I happened to be watching a medical show and the doctor said ‘you guys don’t forget you should be doing self exams too. Especially you young guys, testicular cancer is on the rise’,” says Pooley.
So Pooley prepared to try his hand at a self-exam.
“I decided next shower I would go and check it out. And I found a lump,” says Pooley.
Doctors are seeing it more often. From 1973 to 1992, the rate of testicular cancer increased by more than 50%. The rise continued through the last decade to roughly seven cases per 100,000.
“Testicular cancer is what I call painless mass. Most of the time you don’t have any sign or symptom beside the mass. So you are not going to have any achiness or fever or tiredness,” says Dr. Meir Daller, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
It’s the most common cancer found in men between the ages of 15 and 40. Easily detected through a self-exam, young men are less likely to think about it or report it.
“Men are embarrassed by the cancer and present to the doctor quite late. Most men at the age of 30- 40, feel that they’re immune from health issues,” says Dr. Daller.
The silver lining with testicular cancer is that it’s very treatable. With surgery it’s 90% curable when cases are caught early. If it’s spread the cure rate is 85%
“So we right away are going to do an orchidectomy, a removal of that testis. If it is metastasized, even if there’s cancer in the brain, cancer in the lungs, cancer on the lymph nodes, it’s curable.” says Dr. Daller.
Pooley underwent surgery and radiation. Four years of follow up finds him cancer free.
“I pay a little bit more attention to the signs now,” says Pooley.
And grateful that his feelings paid off.