Brad Leibovich, MD, is a urologic oncologic surgeon who serves as medical director for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Digital Health and has spent decades advancing and perfecting his techniques in treating complex cases of testicular cancer.
He breaks down why education and early intervention are key, no matter a man’s age.
Testicular cancer is thought of as a young man’s disease. What should people know about it?
I think a big misconception is that once you’re past your 30s you’re in the clear, but that’s not the case. Risk peaks again in your 50s and 60s. And while we’ve been curing testicular cancer successfully for a long time now, and it is rare, it’s still so important to do monthly self-exams. And by all means, if you feel something, see your physician as early as possible.
I’d also add that if you are diagnosed, take the time to seek a second opinion, and ensure you’re being seen by a urologist who specializes in testicular cancer. It’s not uncommon for it to be misdiagnosed or treated incorrectly. And lastly, make sure you are informed of all your options.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your 20-plus-year career?
Well, historically, it’s been challenging to educate men about testicular self-examination and the fact that it’s okay to let a doctor know if something isn’t right. The broad reach made possible by technology has allowed us to communicate better, gain new knowledge faster and spread awareness much more efficiently and effectively. It’s truly saved lives.
How would you describe the role of innovation in this space?
It’s been game changing. We can do so much more for patients. Like using technology to match the right patient with the right care. Or tapping into the Mayo Clinic Center for Digital Health to provide virtual care, which can be everything from virtual visits and virtual testing to remote imaging and even remote physical exams. It’s also made it easier for us to collaborate with our colleagues in the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, radiology, and medical oncology so we can provide the most integrated care, faster than anyone else.
And it’s made possible things that were once impossible. I am one of very few surgeons in the world who can completely remove large tumors involving the major veins and arteries that run down the back. In these cases, some physicians might consider the patient untreatable, simply because they aren’t aware that a surgical option is available.
Do you have any parting advice?
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re doing monthly self-exams, keep at it. If you skipped last year, now’s the time to start. A simple, 30-second exam could save your life.
Learn more about Dr. Leibovich and the innovative care at Mayo Clinic.