A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Testicular self-exam: Info men need to know

Young man drinking coffee - Testicular self-exam

Men ages 15-35 are most at risk for testicular cancer.

Unlike most cancers, testicular cancer strikes young men. The average age range for testicular cancer is 15-35.

The key to catching testicular cancer early is for men to examine their own testicles. Kenneth Rueden, a physician assistant in urology at Marshfield Clinic, said men should examine themselves once a month, beginning around puberty.

How to self-examine

“Examine one testicle at a time,” Rueden said. “The index and other fingers should sit below the testicle with the thumb on top. Then gently roll the testicle between the fingers.”

Men should be feeling for any lumps or masses. Rueden suggests doing a testicular self-exam after a shower, when the skin is loose. He also suggests doing the examination in front of a mirror, so you can look for any abnormalities.

“If you find a lump or mass on your testicle, you should call a doctor right away,” Rueden said. “That’s not something that should wait.”

It’s not necessarily cancer

While a mass on the testicle could indicate testicular cancer, other diagnoses are possible.

A hydrocele is a sac that fills with fluid around the testicle and is generally not cause for concern. A cyst on the epididymis, a tube that stores and transports sperm, also is a possible cause of a lump.

Testicular cancer is rare and very curable

According to the American Cancer Society, a man’s chance of getting testicular cancer is about 1 in 263. If caught early, testicular cancer usually is curable. The most common sign of testicular cancer is a painless lump, though a dull pain also could be an indicator.

Treatment for testicular cancer includes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.  Sometimes more than one type of treatment is needed.

If you’re concerned about your testicular health or spot an abnormality, talk to your provider today.

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