Testicular cancer occurs in about 2.8 out of 100,000 men, with about 4000 cases in the USofA each year. The right testicle is more likely to be affected than the left and having had mumps as a child puts a man at increased risk. Most testicular cancer occurs between 25 and 29 – it’s very, very rare (but not unheard of) before 20 or after 40. Lance Armstrong has shown that someone with cancer of the testicle can not only survive, but thrive. Early detection greatly improves survival rates, so checking yourself is very important!
Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
a lump in the testicle
enlargement of testicle
pain in the back
blood in semen (note that blood in the semen is usually not a sign of a problem, but it should always be checked)
actual pain in the testicle is rare (a lack of pain does not indicate a lack of cancer)
To do a self exam, start with a hot bath or shower. This will cause the scrotum to descend and thin, making checking the testicles easier. Place the right foot on the edge of the tub or toilet and use the thumb and forefinger to gently but firmly roll the right testicle, feeling the entire surface. Switch feet so the left one is raised and check the left testicle.
The testicles should have a smooth surface and should feel firm but not hard. There should be no lumps or bumps. You will feel the epididymis, a ridged structure, along the back of each testicle and may feel the vas deferens, small cord like structures that carry sperm from the testicles into the body. It is normal for one testicle to be larger and hang lower than the other.
Pain usually indicates an infection, not cancer, but it needs to be checked and treated by a doctor.
A small hard lump (pea size) may be cancer and a doctor needs to be contacted immediately.
If there is a soft area that feels like a bunch of thin tubes above the testicle, it could be a varicocele. It’s not cancer, but it can effect fertility and should be reported to a doctor.
If you check monthly you will know what your testicles feel like, and will immediately notice any change. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death!
Fathers, teach your son to do this when he gets into high school.
Husbands, remind your wife to check for breast cancer every month (or do it for her!)
Wives, remind your husband to check his testicles – or do it for him!
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