The Complete Guide to Testicular Cancer
With a timely diagnosis, testicular cancer is most likely treatable and in most cases curable. It is the most common cancer in men aged 15 to 35 years old. According to the Urology Care Foundation, about 8,850 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in the United States this year. The risk of death from testicular cancer is small, and is one of the most curable cancers, with a 90 percent chance of making a complete recovery.
The cause of this particular cancer is unknown, but doctors do know that men who were born with an undescended or partially descended testicle are five times more likely to develop testicular cancer. Other research has suggested that there may be a hereditary factor involved, and that if you have a father or brother who has developed the disease you are at an increased risk.
Here is a guide to what you should know about testicular cancer:
Not enough is known at the moment about the causes to suggest ways of preventing it. However, recent research has shown that if undescended testicles are corrected before a boy is 10-years-old, his risk of developing testicular cancer drops back to the average level of one in 450 before the age of 50.
The first sign is usually a swelling of one of the testicles, or a pea-sized hard lump on the front or side of a testicle. Other signs to look out for are a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, an enlargement or tenderness of the breasts and occasionally there may be a dull ache, or even more seldom, acute pain in the abdomen or groin. Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- A lump in either testicle.
- An enlarged (swollen) testicle.
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.
- A sudden gathering of fluid in the scrotum.
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
- Low back pain
- Swollen breasts
How and When to Check for Testicular Cancer:
You can detect testicular cancer by doing a monthly testicular self-exam. Such an exam is a way that men can look for signs of cancer of the testicles. To do a self-exam, follow these steps:
Do the exam after a warm shower or bath. The warmth relaxes the skin of the scrotum, making it easier to feel for anything unusual. Use both hands to examine each testicle. Place your index and middle fingers underneath the testicle and your thumbs on top. Roll the testicle between your thumbs and fingers. (It’s normal for testicles to be different sizes.) As you feel the testicle, you may notice a cord-like structure on top and in back of the testicle. This structure is called the epididymis. It stores and transports sperm. Do not confuse it with a lump. Feel for any lumps. Lumps can be pea-size or larger and are often painless. If you notice a lump, contact your doctor. Also, check for any change in size, shape, or consistency of the testes. You should also get a physical exam once a year. The earlier the cancer is caught, the more can be done to prevent it.
If you think that you may have symptoms of testicular cancer, or you have a family history of testicular cancer, call Charlotte Men’s Health to request an appointment with Dr. Richard Natale at (704) 786-5131 or request an appointment online.