Testicular cancer affects roughly 2,300 men each year and is much more common among men of working age. It is nearly always curable but as with many cancers, the key to having the best chance of recovery is to spot potential symptoms early on.
The main symptoms to look out for are:
- a lump or swelling about the size of a pea (it could be larger);
- a dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles, which may come and go;
- a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum;
- a sudden collection of fluid in your scrotum;
- a general feeling of being unwell.
Once a month, you should take time to examine the area and identify any lumps or irregular swellings. If you notice anything unusual, it is very important to book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to get checked out.
If you are diagnosed with testicular cancer, one decision facing you will be whether to continue working during your treatment. Cancer treatment can affect people differently and some people may not be able to work throughout their treatment. However, many people do decide to continue working.
If you are able to carry on working, it is your decision whether you decide to disclose your cancer diagnosis to your employer. Some people worry that their employer may discriminate against them and their employment may be affected. However, all employees diagnosed with cancer are protected by the Equality Act 2010, which directly states that your employer is legally required to consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate you.
If you feel comfortable enough to do so, there are significant benefits to letting your employer know that you are undergoing treatment for cancer. If you don’t, your employer isn’t under any legal obligation to help you because they don’t know about your condition and this could cause problems later on. If you are referred to Fit for Work after an of absence of four weeks or more due to cancer, your Fit for Work case manager can help to facilitate a conversation between you and your employer, provided that you give consent for them to be contacted.
If your employer is made aware of your condition, they can look into making reasonable adjustments for you at work. Reasonable adjustments could include giving you time off to go to medical appointments, changing your job role to remove tasks that cause problems, allocating some of your work to a colleague, allowing you to work more flexible hours, letting you work from home or giving you extra breaks if you are feeling unwell.
If you are looking for support and advice on working while undergoing cancer treatment, you can phone the Fit for Work advice line on 0800 032 6235 (0800 019 2211 for those in Scotland) to speak to a dedicated advisor. Those who have been off work for four weeks or more can be referred for a Fit for Work assessment by their GP or employer. The Fit for Work Advice Hub can also help with guidance and information on cancer and work. You can also find guidance on Macmillan’s website. Employers can consult the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) in-depth guide on cancer and working guidelines.