Hi Dr. Nick | Issue 16

Hi Dr. Nick | Issue 16


According to Alanis Morissette, irony is like rain on your wedding day. In that sense, cancer is quite ironic: it is an unfortunate thing to happen, but completely unrelated to the literary technique that highlights the incongruity of the assumed nature and the underlying reality of things. What is ironic, however, is the way we Scarfies treat checking our balls and our boobs.

As always, looking for high grade Otago-specific evidence in this column would be like looking for a knife in a spoon shop. Instead, Iím gonna assume that youíre between 20 and 24, arenít too dissimilar to the people in my ďfocus groupĒ (read: friends at morning tea) and didnít recently lose your genitals in a Castle St flat initiation (although itíd serve you right for flat hunting in July).

From a young age, girls check their boobs for lumps because we all know that breast cancer is bad (and because boobs are awesome). Guys, on the other hand, arenít targeted by ads in which carefully selected ethnic men sit around the table loudly joking about their balls. In my group, no guy had seriously felt their balls for lumps, preferring to rigourously examine the shaft above it.

Now, for young girls thereís not a huge reason to panic Ė around 80 per cent of breast cancer occurs in people over 50 years old. When it comes to young guys, however, the ballís in cancerís court. Nut cancer is largely a young manís disease; the overwhelming majority occurs under the age of 40. To throw some numbers in the mix: for every million guys between 20 and 24 years old, about 80 will get testicular cancer. For every million girls between 20 and 24, only 10 will get breast cancer.

Sure, I guess the absolute difference in numbers isnít staggeringly different, but the difference in the number of people who check for lumps is. So guys Ė next time you jump out of the shower have a feel of your balls. If you get sidetracked and make a mess, you can always jump back in.
This article first appeared in Issue 16, 2013.
Posted 3:59pm Sunday 21st July 2013 by Dr. Nick.