Meet Dr. Phillip M. Pierorazio, Associate Professor of Urology and Oncology, Director of the Testicular Cancer Program at the Brady Urological Institute and Department of Urology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.
We spoke with Dr. Pierorazio for a special Testicular Cancer Awareness Month Testes Talk to shed light and educate men on a very important disease that’s seldom discussed — and therefore, discovered:
“The biggest issue with the diagnosis of testicular cancer is denial by otherwise young, healthy men. The average time for a man to feel something wrong with his testicles and come to a doctor is 4–6 months in the US.”
This, he says, is because many men perceive a stigma about something being wrong with their genitals or do not want to seek help. Men need to know that the workup is painless (blood work and an ultrasound) and that if diagnosed early, the cure rate without additional treatment is excellent.
When it comes to what every man should be doing, he says, “Every man should perform regular testicular self-exams… most importantly, if they ever feel anything wrong, they should seek a professional evaluation. This can be from a primary care doctor or a urologist. If anything is abnormal, a simple ultrasound test is the next step.”
The most common testicular cancer symptoms to be aware of, according to Dr. Pierorazio, is a painless mass in the testicle. This can feel like a lump, bump or general growth of the entire testicle. It can be associated with pain or a sense of fullness or heaviness.
If you do discover a lump and receive a testicular cancer diagnosis, his advice is to understand your disease — gather information and understand your treatment options.
“Survivorship, survivorship, survivorship — most men diagnosed with the disease will be cured (95%), therefore you should consider your long-term life goals as you pursue treatment of your cancer. Seek an expert opinion — this is a rare disease and experience matters, see a testicular cancer expert who treats a lot of men with the disease.”
When it comes to seeing a urologist, Dr. Pierorazio says that depending on your age, most men do not require regular visits with a urologist. Men with urinary symptoms (difficulty urinating) or a family history of urologic cancers (prostate cancer, testicular cancer in particular) should see a urologist starting at an early age — typically in their 30’s or 40’s.
Urologists can address a variety of issues for men’s health including sexual dysfunction, questions of low testosterone, and, most importantly, any man who feels something abnormal in their testicle or scrotum should seek prompt evaluation by their primary care physician and a urologist.
His biggest advice to men is, “Don’t be a hero, seek professional help if you think something is wrong in your life. As men, there is a notion that seeking help is a sign of weakness. Whether there is something wrong with your testicles or another part of your life, seeking help and recognizing that something may be wrong is the truly heroic thing to do.”
Thank you to Dr. Pierorazio for all your ongoing efforts in men’s health and for taking the time to share your knowledge and wisdom with us to continue to spread awareness and education! Follow Dr. Pierorazio on Twitter at @drphil_urology.