When 18 year old Byron Geldard was diagnosed with cancer, doctors were stumped as to what kind of cancer he had and how to fight the spread of the disease – until a simple pregnancy test provided them with the answer. The teenager’s cancer had spread to his lungs, but doctors couldn’t figure out where it had begun to develop. “They didn’t know what type of cancer I had,” Byron said in a recent interview.=
“I could have had four or five different types.” Terrified that a lack of a more specific diagnosis could lead to difficulty fighting the disease, Byron was referred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit in Cambridge, where he was given an unusual diagnostic tool: a pregnancy test.
When the test came back positive, doctors were able to determine through Byron’s hormone levels that his cancer was stage four testicular cancer, and start him on a treatment regimen immediately.
“I started chemotherapy the day after I was diagnosed,” Byron reports.
A year later, in remission after intensive chemotherapy and surgery, Byron is proud to be an ambassador for the organization the Teenage Cancer Trust. He hopes to spread awareness about testicular cancer and other forms of cancer through stand-up comedy targeted at young audiences.
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“Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery and today’s a gift,” Byron says; “It may be from Kung Fu Panda but it is how I feel.”
Do Pregnancy Tests Really Detect Cancer?
According to the Teenage Cancer Trust, pregnancy tests are commonly used to diagnose testicular cancer, and have been for the past six years. Pregnancy tests, which measure hormones and proteins, can be used to detect abnormal hormone and protein levels related to testicular cancer.
In 2012, a man made headlines when he posted a comic on the popular website reddit.com about taking a pregnancy test as a joke and getting a positive result – receiving a flood of advice telling him to get tested for testicular cancer, for which he tested positive and was then able to receive treatment.
But the majority of cases of testicular cancer are self-detected, according to WebMD, or detected by a sexual partner. Endocrinologists discourage the use of pregnancy tests to self-diagnose testicular cancer, because any number of conditions can lead to a change in hormone levels, resulting in a false positive on the test.
The best way to catch testicular cancer in the early stages, according to the American Cancer Association, is to perform regular self-exams and see a doctor right away if you detect a lump in one of your testicles. Some doctors recommend monthly self-exams – just as those with breasts are encouraged to do monthly self-examinations for lumps in their breasts.