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Testicular Cancer More Likely in Tall Men


Why are tall men apparently more likely to develop testicular cancer? Scientists are not sure, but new research shows that beginning with a height of 5 feet 10 inches, the risk of getting testicular cancer increases by 13 percent per inch.

Testicular cancer is not common but still serious

Although it makes up only about 1 percent of male cancers, testicular cancer is still a formidable challenge. Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France champion, is testament to that. In 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer at age 25. The disease spread to his lungs and brain, and after surgery and extensive chemotherapy, he has managed to beat the disease.

Testicular cancer usually occurs in men between the ages of 20 and 39, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most are of one of two general types: seminoma, which grows slowly and is sensitive to radiation; and nonseminoma, which has cells that grow more rapidly. Treatment can often cure testicular cancer, but regular follow-up exams are critically important.

Risk factors for testicular cancer include having an undescended testicle, a history of testicular cancer, and a family history of the disease. Now Dr. Michael Blaise Cook, from the National Cancer Institute, and his team may be adding another factor to the list.

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Cook, who led the latest research, noted in a Telegraph article that although their investigations showed a link between the disease and being taller, “we still do not understand how increased height raises a man’s risk of testicular cancer.”

In fact, Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, noted that testicular cancer “can affect men of any height as shown by jockey Bob Champion who won his battle against testicular cancer by coming back from illness to win the Grand National last year.”

Although men may feel reassured by the fact that fewer than 4 percent of testicular lumps are cancerous, testicular cancer is still a disease men should be aware of and recognize its signs and symptoms. They include a lump, swelling or enlargement in the testicle, pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum, and/or an ache in the lower abdomen, back, or groin.

Diagnosis of testicular cancer involves undergoing blood tests, ultrasound, and a biopsy. Cancer Research UK points out that the cure rate for testicular cancer is 98 percent of men diagnosed surviving for at least 10 years. Tall men and short should see their doctor if they notice any indications of the disease.

National Cancer Institute
UK Telegraph