Testicular Cancer: What You Should Know
It’s November, the month of Movember! Movember is an international annual event aimed to raise awareness for male-specific cancers. Many men neglect their annual checkups, so testicular cancer often goes undetected for a long period of time. Early diagnosis is vital for effective treatment. That’s why testicular cancer is singled out for international attention, so that we can work towards removing the fear from getting tested.
What is testicular cancer and who does it affect?
Testicular cancer is a growth/tumor which occurs in the testicles (testes), which are situated inside the scrotum – a lose bag of skin located underneath the penis.
It is a rare type of cancer, which mostly occurs in young teens and young adult males, the most common ages being between 15 – 39 years old. The good news is that testicular cancer is very treatable. The risk of death from this type of cancer is minimal, provided it is caught early!
What are the causes?
The causes are unknown in many cases. One known fact is that cancer occurs when healthy cells in a testicle become altered. Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep your body functioning normally. But sometimes cells develop abnormalities, causing this growth to get out of control. These cancer cells continue to divide even when new cells aren’t needed. The accumulating cells form a mass in the testicle.
Symptoms of testicular cancer?
The cancer usually affects only one testicle. The most common symptoms are as follows:
- A lump or enlargement in either testicle
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the testicle.
- Back pain
Should you experience any of the above symptoms, or any pain, swelling or lumps in your testicles or groin area, contact your doctor immediately for a consultation and further treatment.
Treatment is available. There are many different treatment options available. On diagnosis, your oncologist will discuss the various treatment options, their risks and their side effects with you. Some available treatment options are:
- Surgery – removal of testicle
- Radiation therapy
- High-dose chemotherapy
- Stem cell transplant
Fortunately, the recovery rate of this type of cancer is high. It’s important to be diagnosed early on to improve your chances of effective treatment and recovery.
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent testicular cancer, so early detection is always the safest form or protection. That is why regular check-ups with your doctor are vital, and you should practice self examination.
For self-examination, hold your penis out of the way and feel with your hands around your testicles. Hold your testicle between your fingers and thumb and roll it gently and feel for any lumps or growths or pain. Check for any change in the size, shape, or consistency of your testicles.
Remember that your health is always in your hands. Your body is the only place you have to live – look after it. If you do, you can live a long, healthy and happy life.