Doctors at the University of Oxford interviewed 45 men with testicular cancer, gathering and analyzing the men’s narratives from when they first suspected they had the illness to the time of their diagnosis, which was between August 2001 and February 2002. Part of the interviews focused on why men delayed seeing a doctor.
Most of the men first became aware something might be wrong when they discovered a lump on a testicle, or their testicle had swollen or become painful. But they hesitated to see their doctor for weeks or months because of the above reasons.
Many of those interviewed in the study finally made a doctor’s appointment due to having seen media articles concerning testicular cancer. The subjects mentioned that their doctors at times had difficulty making the diagnosis. So the researchers advise that physicians be particularly diligent with men who come to them with testicular issues, and not hesitate to send them out for ultrasound tests.
“It is important that men know the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer,” said Ann McPherson, a family doctor who co-wrote the report, “but equally important that they understand that a diagnosis of testicular cancer is not a death sentence and that the cure rate is excellent. Men also need easy access to doctors, at surgeries where they feel welcome, and to clinics where they can seek advice without embarrassment.”
Ian Banks, a physician and chairman of the Men’s Health Forum, told BBC News Online: “Some young men wait up to 14 weeks after finding a lump on their testicle before going to the [family doctor]. I’d like to think things are getting better in terms of men looking after their health. But there seem to be areas where we’re no better than we were 20 years ago.”
Men’s health advice, he added, should be designed especially to appeal to young men, because many of them are accustomed to their mothers or partners taking care of their health for them.