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.
Kenneth Rueden, a physician assistant in urology with Marshfield Clinic Health System, said men should examine themselves once a month, beginning around puberty.
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.
If you’re concerned about your testicular health or spot an abnormality, talk to your provider today.