Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Physician:Outlook is good for patients

August 8, 2001

Dr. Stephen Williamson is Mike Covey's oncologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Since May, Williamson has been treating Covey for testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer typically strikes men between the ages of 18 and 25, Williamson said. Men who appear to be perfectly healthy are as apt to get it as anyone else.

"It is the same thing that Lance Armstrong had," Williamson said. "It's fortunately a very treatable and relatively curable malignancy. Even in advanced stages, it's still highly curable, at least today with chemotherapy."

Even when testicular cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, about 70 percent of men can be cured, Williamson said.

Followup the first two years after chemotherapy is intensive, Williamson said.

"That's because if it comes back, it usually shows up in the first couple of years," he said. "Usually if they go two or three years without it coming back, it's pretty rare for it to ever come back."

Testicular cancer is rare in itself, he said.

"It's not a very common tumor," Williamson said. "It occurs in about one in every 100,000 people."

No cause has been determined for testicular cancer.

"People have a higher risk if they had an undescended testicle, especially if it hasn't been surgically repaired before adolescence," Williamson said.

Also, having had testicular cancer puts a man in a slightly higher risk group.

"The chances of it occurring in the other testicle is about two in 100,000, about twice the risk, but still very low," Williamson said. "I have yet to see any of my patients have it show up in the other testicle."

Williamson has been a professor of medicine since 1986 at the Kansas City, Kan., medical center.

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