April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society notes that this type of cancer is not common. One of every 250 males will develop testicular cancer at some point during their lifetime, with the average age of diagnosis being 33.
That said, like any cancer, early detection is important. It's important for males to know their risks and to perform monthly self-checks. As the Urology Care Foundation reports, surgery plus chemo or radiation (alone or combined) can cure almost 100% of low stage or early disease tumors and at least 85% of more advanced tumors.
Before we talk about performing monthly testicle self-checks, please keep two important points in mind:
- First, some males don't experience any symptoms of testicular cancer.
- Second, many symptoms, like a lump on the testicle or swollen testicle, can be caused by conditions other than testicular cancer.
The American Cancer Society reports the following: "Inflammation of the testicle (known as orchitis) and inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) can cause swelling and pain of the testicle. Both of these also can be caused by viral or bacterial infections."
This is why it's important to conduct regular self-checks and to consult a doctor if anything appears off. Early treatment is not only critical for cancer, but also for other medical conditions. Let's discuss monthly testicle self-checks & what to look for.
How to Perform a Monthly Testicle Self-Check
Testicle self-checks are appropriate for teenage boys on up. Develop good habits. If you're the parent of a teenage boy, remind them to self-check.
A good time to perform a monthly testicle self-check is after a hot shower. The heat from the shower helps the scrotal skin to relax. You'll want to remain standing during the self-check.
Conduct a visual and physical inspection of each testicle. For the visual inspection, look for changes, such as pea-sized lumps, swelling, or anything that appears different from the previous check. For the physical inspection, gently grasp each testicle between the thumb and forefingers and roll gently. Feel for lumps, swelling, pain, hardness, or anything else out of the ordinary.
Keep in mind that it's perfectly normally for one testicle to be larger than the other.
You might feel a cord-like structure along the top and back of each testicle—this is also normal.
If you notice something, don't panic. Again, not all symptoms point to testicular cancer. Make an appointment with your doctor and share your concerns.
Our board-certified urologists can help.
We have many convenient locations throughout Massachusetts. Our board-certified urologists can answer your questions and address your concerns. If something feels off in your body, speak up! Go here to make an appointment with one of our urologists.