A six-year-old boy is fighting testicular cancer after his mother noticed one of his testicles was bigger than the other in the bath.
Jake Barksby is thought to be one of the youngest patients with the disease in Britain – only eight children under nine are diagnosed each year.
His mother, Nicola, 35, spotted one of his testicles was bigger than the other and took him to see the GP on May 28.
The doctor urged Mrs Barksby and her husband Adam to take Jake to hospital as quickly as possible, where tests were carried out.
Jake was diagnosed with testicular cancer on June 4 and had an operation to remove the 5cm-long tumour and one of his testicles a week later.
Jake Barksby is thought to be one of the youngest patients with the disease in Britain – only eight children under nine are diagnosed each year. He is pictured with his mother Nicola
Biopsy results on June 21 confirmed Jake, of Nottinghamshire, had paratesticular rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue tumour.
The disease – a form of testicular cancer – affects fewer than 60 children in the UK each year, according to figures.
Cancer Research UK statistics reveal just eight children under the age of nine are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year, on average.
The disease most commonly affects men aged 15 to 45, with around 2,200 cases diagnosed each year in the UK.
Mrs Barksby, a clerical officer from Hucknall, has now urged all other parents to check their children regularly for signs of cancer.
She said: ‘It all happened so quickly. It was such a huge shock. I almost thought he had not got a right testicle as the other one was quite big.’
Mrs Barksby added: ‘With Jake there was no pain or illness, it was just the size. You do not expect it at all.’
After his diagnosis, Jake underwent a series of tests including a CT scan which revealed another lump in his stomach.
However, a biopsy confirmed the mass was not cancerous.
Jake, who has a 10-year-old sister called Hollie, is undergoing a 22-week course of chemotherapy at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Mrs Barksby said: ‘On the cancer ward it’s very scary. When you walk into the ward it is full of children battling cancer. It’s really sad to see.
‘Cancer changes your life. We’re just taking things a day at a time. We were meant to be going to Florida on holiday but now we will have to leave it until next year.
‘He has chemotherapy every week for four weeks and then he gets a week break. He is just getting on with it.
‘He has been very accepting and lets the doctors do what they have to do. It’s very uncommon in children his age but luckily we found it early enough.
‘For myself it’s about raising awareness in younger children, and it’s also so important for younger lads to check themselves.’
Mrs Barksby praised the teaching hospital, saying the nurses have been ‘really great’ and that they have kept the family ‘in the loop’.
Jake’s sister, Hollie, has been putting her focus into raising money for the hospital’s children’s cancer ward.
So far she has raised £1,500 and has visited the ward to see what toys and games the children might need to make their treatment more bearable.
‘I’m doing it in honour of my brother because he’s going through so much at the minute,’ said Hollie, who has signed up to run a 5km run next month.
Nicki Embleton, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Nottinghamshire said: ‘Our hearts go out to this little boy and his parents.
‘It is always very difficult when a child develops cancer, but in a situation like this where the cancer is so rare it can feel even more isolating.’
Removing the testicle is usually the first treatment for patients battling testicular cancer. The procedure is called an orchidectomy.
Experts warn that having one testicle removed can slash the odds of men having children. Patients can get prosthetic testicles.
WHAT IS TESTICULAR CANCER?
Cancer of the testicles most commonly affects men aged 15 to 45, with around 2,200 cases diagnosed each year.
Around 47 per cent of men diagnosed with the disease will be under 35 years old.
Despite it being a relatively rare form of cancer, it is one of the more treatable.
If caught at an early stage, men can expect a high cure rate with 98 per cent of sufferers disease-free a year after treatment.
If caught at any stage, 96 per cent of men will still be alive 10 years after their treatment.
Unlike many cancers, there are few known risk factors for testicular cancer.
Men born with an undescended testicle, are at a slightly greater risk. Around 10 per cent of sufferers will have a history of this condition.
Having a brother or father affected by testicular cancer can also increase a man’s risk.
Some research has suggested the disease is slightly more common in men with fertility problems and men with HIV are more likely to develop testicular cancer.
Signs and symptoms include:
- a small pea-sized lump, which is painless in most cases
- a dragging sensation
- recent history of trauma
- breast swelling or tenderness
- back pain caused by enlarged lymph nodes in the back
Source: Orchid, Fighting Male Cancer