A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Signs of testicular cancer during a self-exam

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 do a self-exam for signs of testicular cancer.

Young man drinking coffee wondering if he has one of the signs of testicular cancer after a self-exam

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

Kenneth Rueden, a physician assistant in urology with Marshfield Clinic Health System, said men should examine themselves once a month, beginning around puberty.

Testicular self-exam

When looking for signs of testicular cancer, you are feeling for lumps or masses during a self-exam.

“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.”

Rueden suggests doing a testicular self-exam after a shower, when the skin is loose. He also recommends 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.”

According to American Cancer Society, advanced testicular cancer can also give symptoms such as:

  • Low back pain or belly pain from cancer spread to the lymph nodes
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain or cough if cancer spreads to the lungs.
  • Headaches and confusion from cancer spreading to the brain.

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.

When you find a lump, you will have a scrotal ultrasound to determine the cause.

Testicular cancer is rare and very curable

According to the American Cancer Society, a man’s chance of getting testicular cancer is about one in 250. Testicular cancer has a high survival rate, but it is easier to treat and cure if detected early.

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.

For testicular cancer screen, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

Schedule appointment Message your provider

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