Keeping fans updated about his cancer journey through social media and his successful blog, the comic first revealed he had the condition back in February 2021. At the time he wrote the following: “How unlucky was I to get a fairly rare cancer without exhibiting any of the usual causes? But then how lucky was I to get the one that is basically curable?” Back in 2020, it was estimated that 2,500 men were diagnosed with testicular cancer, and throughout April, with the help of ambassadors such as Herring, one charity has been trying to encourage individuals to check for signs and symptoms.
According to data provided to Express.co.uk by Movember, a global study carried out by YouGov of more than 2,500 men found that over half (62 percent) of individuals in the at-risk age group (18-34) didn’t know how to check themselves for testicular cancer.
Although one of the less common cancers, the “at-risk” age range is relatively large, spanning from as young as 15 to 49 years of age.
Typically, symptoms of testicular cancer are painless, consisting of a swelling or lump in one of the testicles. In addition, any change in shape or texture of the testicles could indicate cancer.
The most common type of testicular cancer is known as “germ cell testicular cancer”, which accounts for around 95 percent of all cases. This can then be further divided into two main subtypes of cancer, which have slight differences.
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The first, known as seminomas, tends to grow and spread slowly, and if it spreads to the testicle, it should be treated with chemotherapy and or radiation. The second, non-seminomas, are very variable in appearance and prognosis. These types of tumours almost always secrete proteins known as alpha fetoprotein (AFP).
Less common types of testicular cancer include:
- Leydig cell tumours – which account for around one to three percent of cases
- Sertoli cell tumours – which account for less than one percent of cases.
Sharing details about his own type of testicular cancer, Herring said: “Though cancer sounds like bad news, apart from that bit it’s pretty much all good news. The bad stuff was all safely ensconced inside my ball like the hazelnut in the middle of a Ferrero Rocher…
“Testicular cancer has a 99 percent survival rate (I wish someone had told me this right at the start)…
“You can increase that to practically 100 percent if you wish by having one shot of chemo (which stops it coming back in your nodes) I remember, the doctor on the phone was extremely positive and reassuring.”
In fact, in Herring’s case, having his testicle removed before diagnosis was the best case scenario, as it had stopped the cancer spreading.
Announcing that he was having surgery via Twitter, Herring wrote: “RIP my right b**k. July 12th 1967 to February 24th 2021. Age shall not wither him (he was quite withered already, at least until the last few weeks). He shall be missed.”
With even more good news, later the same year in November 2021, Herring took again to social media to explain that he has truly rid himself of “b****** cancer,” and was now “indestructible”.
As part of Testicular Cancer awareness month, Movember have been promoting Nuts & Bolts, a digital resource to help men who have been through the disease and where individuals can get guidance from an international panel of experts.
A big part of the campaign is teaching individuals the correct way to check their testicles. Movember’s Global Director of Testicular Cancer Sam Gledhill said: “If you’re a guy in your 20s or 30s, you should be getting to know your testicles. What they look like, what they feel like, and what’s normal for you.
“The shower is a great place to start. Carefully and gently roll one testicle at a time between your thumb and finger, checking for any changes or irregularities.
“If something hurts or feels different, it’s important to make time and get it checked out by your doctor.
“The good news is, survival rates are high if the disease is caught early. Sadly, many young men think it’s an ‘old man’s’ disease and don’t take care to check themselves. We’re also concerned that disruptions due to COVID-19 could mean that some men may have delayed potentially life-saving conversations with their doctor.”
If individuals are not sure whether something might be wrong with their testicles, it is best to have an examination by a GP, who may use a scrotal ultrasound to look inside the area. This is one of the main ways to find out whether a lump is cancerous or not.
Almost all men who are treated for testicular germ cell tumours are cured, and it’s rare for the condition to return more than five years later.
The NHS explains that treatment almost always includes the surgical removal of the affected testicle (orchidectomy or orchiectomy), which does not usually affect fertility or the ability to have sex. However, in some cases, chemotherapy or, less commonly, radiotherapy may be used.
This April, #KnowThyNuts for Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. You can find out more at movember.com/knowthynuts.