Why you should get to know your nuts

We have posters on bus shelters. We have advertisements on TV. We have leaflets in public places. All encourage men to do monthly checks for abnormal things in the region variously described as “your bollocks” or nuts. Most people think it’ll never happen to them. Right?

Well you could be wrong.

I’d like point the gents reading this to the Testicular Cancer (TC) Resource Center at –


Or the Cancer Research UK’s Testicular Cancer site at –


Do yourselves a favour and read up on the self exam and do it once a month.

I had an appointment with a urologist on Friday to get something that had been bugging me for a few weeks checked out. I suspected that I had TC in one of my testes. As a aside – if anything down there is going to get bigger why couldn’t it be the bit I could use to impress the girls 🙂

Anyway after some tests (ultrasound, blood etc.) it transpires that I will be going in for an operation from which I will emerge 50% deficient in the bollock department :-[ Luckily evolution has given us a redundant system. You only need one. Actually the surgeon asked me if I wanted to get an artificial one fitted during the operation. I declined. Maybe I could get a battery put in to power my Apple iPod 🙂

Become a Cyborg!!

Whilst the doctors can’t say if it is TC until the testicle is out and tested under the microscope, they are pretty confident it is. I also have to get CT scans and possibly radio treatment or chemo depending on the staging of the cancer.

TC has three stages. Stage 1 is when it is confined to the testes. Cure rates for this are 99% (Will probably be 100% when they have data for the last 10 years). Stage 2 is were the tumour cells have spread to the lymph nodes in the lower back near the kidneys. Cure rates for Stage 2 are above 90%. Stage 3 is where the tumour cells have spread beyond the lymph nodes to other organs like lungs, bones or brain. Cure rates for stage 3 are between 50% and 80%. The CT scan and blood tests are used to determine the stage. I suspect that I will be stage 1 or 2.

So I am going to have an interesting time over the next few weeks and months. Working on the principle that “every cloud has a silver” lining I plan to use the experience to study the biochemistry behind this. Should be interesting to study the structure of the molecular markers that the tumour cells release. Should give me an impetus to read the sections on cancer in “Molecular Biology of the Cell” (Albert’s et al) that I bought last year. I plan to put up info re: treatments, thoughts etc. on this site.

So the bottom line is get to know your nuts 🙂 Better yet get your SO to do your monthly check.

If you want a good laugh check out this personal story –


Fundie shuffle

Unsubstantiated nonsense spouted on BBC “Thought for the Day”.

“Thought for the Day” is a ring fenced religious slot broadcast on BBC Radio 4 each weekday morning. Mostly it is meaningless platitudes. Every now and again there is some nonsense that is even more stupid than usual. The one broadcast on 11th March 2003 is a good example. A transcript is available on the BBC site.

Some comments on this nonsense.

Mr. Das rehashes the old canard that evolutionary theory is as much of a faith based system as religion. This is just nonsense. Mr Das opines –

processes inside the brain. Often, philosophical ideas involving a “ghost in
the machine” are dismissed as mere fantasy or “untestable hypotheses”. But, I

The reason these “ghost in the machine” ideas are dismissed is because there is no evidence to support them. Mr. Das is free to present supporting evidence that can be tested whenever he feels like it.

Mr. Das continues –

feel there is as much dogmatic belief, some of it quite irrational, in the
fields of neuroscience and evolutionary theory.

He should then be able to present supporting evidence to back up this assertion. Both areas of scientific theory that he mentions are well supported by both direct observation and current theory. Evolution for example has supporting evidence from fields such as comparative biology, biochemistry, genetics, palaeontology and others. There is no more “dogmatic belief” in the theory of evolution than there is in the theory of plate tectonics or gravitation. All scientific theories are tentative and subject to revision in the light of new experimental data. Evolutionary theory is a very successful theory for explaining the biodiversity we see on Earth today.

I note that Mr. Das acknowledges the publication of Crick and Koch’s data and conclusions in a peer reviewed journal. Namely –

However, the evidence published in Nature Neuroscience by DNA discoverer,
Francis Crick and his co-researcher, Christof Koch was not so clear cut. In

At least they are willing to have their ideas challenged by their peers and not delivered via an unchallenged monologue from the safety of a ring fenced religious slot.

I think the BBC should seriously consider if the “Thought for the Day” slot is past it’s sell by date if this is the sort of misinformation it serves up.

War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells

The classic alien invasion story.

I bought a copy of H. G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” as one of about 10 books I picked up with book tokens that I got as Christmas presents. I finally started reading it last night. I’d forgotten how well written it is ( I read it about 25 years ago). Wells’ writing style is really clear.

It’s also interesting to note the scientific topics that Wells touches on in the first few chapters. He addresses evolutionary theory, geology, physics, astronomy and planetary science. Not to mention the biological aspect that comes at the end. Wells did do a degree in Zoology (and studied under the supervision of T. H. Huxley) and taught biology for a while. Interestingly he had to give up teaching when he was injured by a pupil during sports.

This book was published about 100 years ago. It’s sad to think that the vast majority of people today know less science that Wells and his audience did 🙁

Rules for Revolutionaries – Guy Kawasaki

How to change business behaviour to differentiate your company from your competitors.

This is an excellent book. Kawasaki brings together novel and innovative methods used by a diverse range of companies to acquire, service and retain customers. A lot of the info is obvious when you see it written down but this book allows you to think about these subjects outside the day to day frantic work place.