Testicular cancer symptoms often mistaken for ‘signs of phantom pregnancy’

Adrian Tinsley, 32, was suffering from the same symptoms as his partner Bethann Meakin, 21, when she was pregnant with their first child together.

Whenever Bethann complained of nausea or food cravings, so would Adrian. They presumed it was ‘Couvade Syndrome’ a phenomenon characterised by symptoms such as morning sickness, cramps, back pain, swollen stomachs and cravings in men whose partners are pregnant.

Bethann used to laugh off his ailments and complaints until a week before she was due to give birth, Adrian woke up in the middle of the night suffering from excruciating back pain. He was rushed to hospital, and mentioned to the doctors trying to treat him that he had a lump on his testicle. Eight hours later, scans revealed his symptoms were the result of testicular cancer, which they estimated he’d had for around five years.

“I knew I’d had the lump for five years, but I never expected it to be cancer. I did have it checked out in March 2009, but was told it was just fluid and nothing to worry about.” said Adrian.

Doctors found three tumours affecting Adrian – one on his testicle (the one he was aware about), one in his groin and another on his back, which was the one which had caused the mid-night agonising pain.

Adrian was transferred to another hospital and began a course of chemotherapy only three days later.

Ms Meakin said: “I just thought he had Couvade Syndrome. Whenever my back hurt- his did. Whenever I felt sick – he did. He even had intense cravings. For two weeks all he wanted to eat was cheeseburgers. When he woke up with that back ache, it was the night after I had gone to hospital with contactions – so I just thought he was mirroring me again. We went from being excited to have our first baby to the realisation that I might end up a single mum.”

Testicular cancer is the most common in men aged 15-44 and affects a significant proportion of the population – 2,000 people are diagnosed each year. However, it is one of the most treatable cancers, with a five-year survival rate of 97%.

Lumps on the testicles or swelling in one testicle are two of the most common symptoms, and 20% of patients also experience pain in their testicles or lower abdomen. A feeling of ‘heaviness’ in the scrotum is also something to look out for.

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