Julian Omidi is one of many people that was made aware of a man that used a pregnancy test to identify testicular cancer. Here, Julian Omidi reviews how this happened, but more importantly, how this relates to the benefits of communication and awareness that are available thanks to modern technology and social media.
Most people are aware of this story at this point, but for those who are unfamiliar with it here is a brief review: A man took a pregnancy test as a laugh only to see that it came up positive. A friend of this man made a humorous cartoon out of the situation and posted it to Reddit, a website that features user-generated news links. Users left comments on the post informing the cartoonist that because pregnancy tests identify the hCG hormone, which not only indicates pregnancy but testicular cancer as well, the man would benefit from visiting the doctor. When the man did visit the doctor he found that he had a small tumor in his testicle, though luckily it was a very early and curable tumor.
Though in this instance the pregnancy test did allow the man to identify that he had cancer, this is not a recommended procedure for identifying testicular cancer. False-positive pregnancy tests are very common, especially when compared to the actual number of cases of testicular cancer that appear in men each year (roughly 5.4 per 100,000 men). What is most interesting about this case is the ability for individuals to get questions to medical issues answered relatively quickly by using websites and social media.
While it is always preferable to consult a trained doctor about any medical issues, many individuals now are able to identify potential health problems through websites like WebMD, eHealthForum, Ask, and many more. On social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter cancer patients, for example, can connect with cancer survivors and find out how to manage nausea during chemotherapy treatment, or gain insight into the likelihood of side effects experienced on specific medications.
We are lucky to live in an age of information sharing, and while there is a great degree of misinformation provided by these same tools, the benefits often outweigh the liabilities.
DeNoon, Daniel. “WebMD Newsroom.” WebMD.com. WebMD, 12 Nov. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. <http://blogs.webmd.com/breaking-news/2012/11/pregnancy-test-reveals-testicular-cancer.html>.