Testicular Cancer

Delays in seeing a specialist

The survival rate for testicular cancer is exceptionally good. In England and Wales, almost all men (99%) survive for a year or more after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, and 98% survive for five years or more after diagnosis (NHS Choices June 2016)​. Most men can now be completely cured, even if the cancer has spread beyond the testicle. However, some types of tumour spread more rapidly than others, so it is important that men seek help as quickly as possible. If the tumour is Stage 1, completely contained within the testicle, treatment is easier and less toxic than if the tumour has spread to other parts of the body.

Sometimes delay is caused by a man's reluctance to visit his GP. It is known that there may be various 'triggers', such as pain, that encourage people to seek help, or reasons that prevent a rapid consultation, such as embarrassment, or denial.

Sometimes symptoms were unclear, and some men we interviewed delayed seeking help until their wives, girlfriends, or parents encouraged them to seek help (see 'Signs and symptoms'). 

One man explained that he delayed seeking help for two years because he did not feel any pain, he felt fit and healthy, because it was hard to take time off work, and because it was an embarrassing problem.

Audio onlyText only
Read below
Another man said that he delayed seeking help for 18 months, because he did not want to face the fact that he was ill. He said that men do not like to make a fuss, or to be seen as weak. Another man explained that he delayed seeking help because he did not wish to be a hypochondriac.
One young man we spoke to delayed seeking help because he only had one testicle and wrongly feared that if the other testicle were to be removed he would no longer be able to have sex. He did not realise that hormone replacement therapy could restore his levels of testosterone (see 'Hormone treatment').
Past experience of illness can also influence the decision to seek help. One man remembered that when his mother had been seriously ill with cancer he had been falsely assured that she would get better. He was afraid of cancer, particular metastases (tumour spread), and didn't realise that, even if testicular cancer has spread, it is usually curable. He couldn't face the diagnosis and so delayed seeking help.
Audio onlyText only
Read below
One patient delayed seeking help for six months. When he was eventually examined by the GP he found the examination painful, so he didn't keep his appointment with the urologist, which delayed everything further.
One man we interviewed said that he delayed consulting a doctor because, at his University Health Centre, those waiting to see a doctor could hear all that was being said inside the doctor's office. 

Delay in reaching an urologist may also happen because of misdiagnosis by a GP. A number of men said that their GPs hadn't referred them rapidly to an urologist because the diagnosis was difficult to make (also see 'Signs and symptoms'). Some men we spoke to said they were given false reassurance by their GPs, even when a lump could be felt. The men felt they should trust their GPs and were reluctant to question their doctors' judgements.

Administrative delays also occurred, which added to the problem of patient delay and misdiagnosis.
Last reviewed December 2017.
Last updated December 2017.


Please use the form below to tell us what you think of the site. We’d love to hear about how we’ve helped you, how we could improve or if you have found something that’s broken on the site. We are a small team but will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice. If you are affected by any of the issues covered on this website and need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact The Samaritans or your Doctor.

Make a Donation to healthtalk.org

Find out more about how you can help us.

Send to a friend

Simply fill out this form and we'll send them an email