SURVIVAL rates among men diagnosed with testicular cancer have risen by almost 30 per cent in the past 40 years, figures show.
Cancer Research UK revealed that more than 96 per cent of men now survived testicular cancer in the UK – compared with less than 70 per cent in the 1970s.
The better survival rates were put down to the scientific research that has helped create new drugs to tackle the disease.
In Scotland, about 230 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year, making it the most common cancer in men aged 15 to 49.
The figures come as Cancer Research UK continues its Beat Cancer Sooner campaign to highlight the role of research in the fight against cancer and encourage more supporters to come forward to help fund their work.
Improvements in testicular cancer survival are thought to be largely thanks to the drug cisplatin, with the charity’s scientists involved in its creation.
Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “A clear success story in cancer research has been the drug cisplatin, which our scientists helped to develop.
“This is helping almost all men with testicular cancer to beat the disease and is a shining example of what we can achieve through dedicated research.
“For some types of cancer, the word ‘cure’ is almost a reality – 96 per cent of men with testicular cancer are now cured.
“But it’s important we recognise the 4 per cent who aren’t surviving the disease, as well as the fact that we still need treatments to be kinder to patients in the future.
“It’s only by doing more research that we can bring forward the day when we are able to beat all types of cancer.”
Testicular cancer is the latest form of the disease for which figures have shown that survival rates are now increasing.
Last week, statistics revealed that eight out of ten men and almost nine out of ten women in Scotland diagnosed with the malignant melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer – will now survive the disease.
In Scotland, it is now estimated that two out of five people will develop cancer at some point in their life time, meaning increased efforts are still required to combat the disease.
Campaigners said more work was needed to highlight the symptoms of cancer so survival rates could increase further, including for patients with testicular cancer.
Martin Ledwick, head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: “The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump or swelling in one of the testicles.
“Cancer Research UK has a leaflet about what to look out for, which you can download from the website. You can also call the charity’s information nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040 if you have any questions.”
Case study: ‘Someone diagnosed at the same time as me died from it’
Alex Watson is living proof that improvements in treatment can help save patients with testicular cancer.
The 41-year-old from Lenzie was diagnosed with the disease when he was just 23.
Mr Watson said his long-term survival was down to the scientists who worked hard to understand the disease and develop new drugs.
The gift shop owner, who lives with civil partner Peter, said: “I feel I was incredibly fortunate to be cured and survive testicular cancer.
“Years ago, testicular cancer was something that you wouldn’t have survived.
“I did know of someone who was diagnosed at the same time as me who died from the disease. It’s good that people are getting the all clear and are surviving, but I think more needs to be done in terms of making sure people get better, kinder treatments.”
Mr Watson was treated with surgery and radiotherapy before being prescribed testosterone hormone tablets, which he took until last year.
But when this treatment became unavailable, it was discovered that Alex had been living with insufficient testosterone levels which had caused osteoporosis. He was then prescribed a new hormone treatment, which he receives by injection every ten weeks, that has started to reverse the onset of osteoporosis.