Testicular cancer: Four things you should know when self-examining – got the all-clear?

Testicular cancer: Four things you should know when self-examining – got the all-clear?

Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles (testes), which are located inside the scrotum, a loose bag of skin underneath the penis. Compared with other types of cancer, testicular cancer is rare, though incidence rates for testicular cancer are projected to rise by 12 percent in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 10 cases per 100,000 males by 2035, according to Cancer Research UK. Fortunately, testicular cancer is highly treatable if it is caught early enough, and men are advised to examine themselves to look for warning signs. According to Macmillan, there are four main tips men should know.

What is considered healthy?

A normal testicle should feel smooth and firm, but not hard, explained Macmillan UK.

When is the best time to check?

“The best time to check your testicles is during, or right after, a warm bath or shower, when the scrotal skin is relaxed,” said Macmillan UK.

How should I check?

“Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand, and use your fingers and thumb to examine each testicle,” advised the charity.

It added: “Feel for lumps or swellings, anything unusual, or differences between your testicles.

“It’s normal for the testicles to be slightly different in size and for one to hang lower than the other.”

If you find a lump – don’t panic

The epididymis (tube that carries sperm) lies at the top of the back part of each testicle. It feels like a soft, coiled tube.

It’s common to get harmless cysts or benign lumps in the epididymis.

Lumps or swellings can be caused by other conditions, and most lumps aren’t cancer, explained the health body.

“But it’s very important that you have anything unusual checked by your doctor as soon as possible,” it added.

According to the NHS, undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) is the most significant risk factor for testicular cancer.

Around three to five percent of boys are born with their testicles inside their abdomen. They usually descend into the scrotum during the first year of life, but in some boys the testicles do not descend.

In most cases, testicles that do not descend by the time a boy is a year old descend at a later stage.

If the testicles do not descend naturally, an operation known as an orchidopexy can be carried out to move the testicles into the correct position inside the scrotum, explained the health body.

Other risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • Previous history of testicular cancer
  • How is testicular cancer treated?

Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are the three main treatments for testicular cancer, said the NHS.

Although early intervention has a high success rate, there is a risk it’ll return, warned the health body.

“The risk of your cancer returning will depend on what stage it was at when you were diagnosed and what treatment you have had since,” the health site added.

Because of the risk of recurrence, you’ll need regular tests to check if the cancer has returned, it said.

These include:

  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests to check for tumour markers
  • A chest X-ray
  • A CT scan

Published at Mon, 22 Jul 2019 18:00:00 +0000