Patients are often the first to notice a lump in their testicles and they bring it to our attention. Young men ages 15-35 are the ones who are at risk for cancer of the testicles. About 300 young men die of this disease each year. Testicular cancer does occur in middle-aged or older men, but to a lesser extent. This cancer can almost always be cured if it is found before it gets bad and if it is treated. So, you have to help us out.
Know your anatomy:
Men, and the women who love them, need to know the anatomy. The testicles are the 2 egg-shaped glands that make hormones and sperm in men. The scrotum is the skin around the testicles. The epididymis is the rope-like part (“bag of worms”) that is behind and above each testis. It collects sperm made by the testis.
Who is at risk for testicular cancer?
White men between ages 15-31 are at higher risk for testicular cancer. Other known risks are in men who were born with a testicle that had not moved down into the scrotum (undescended testicle,) men whose testicles have gotten smaller because of an infection, and men whose fathers or brothers have had cancer of the testicles.
Watch out for symptoms:
Your red flag symptoms for testicular cancer are:
- A painless swelling in one of your testicles.
How often should I check my testicles?
- A hard lump. Some lumps may be an infection, so don’t panic right away.
- A heavy feeling in your testicles.
- An ache in your lower belly (abdomen) or groin.
You should check your testicles every month.
How do I check my testicles?
It is best to check your testicles right after a warm shower or bath. Look at your testicles for any swelling. You may need to use a mirror. Use both your hands to roll each testicle between your thumb and fingers. Feel for any lumps or changes in the size of the testicle. Don’t worry if you find that one testicle is a little bigger than the other. This is normal.
Next, check the epididymis on each testicle. This is the part where most testicular cancers happen. It is normal for the epididymis to feel soft and uneven. When you get used to how your epididymis feels, you will be able to tell if there is any change.
If you find any swelling or lumps call your doctor. We can easily order a testicular ultrasound. Don’t panic because while some lumps or swelling can be a cancer, they can also be infection which is easily treated.
- Dr O.
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