Testicular cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in one or both testicles. An uncommon disease, the risk of a man getting testicular cancer is about 1 in 300. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 8,430 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed this year, and more than 380 men will die of the disease in the United States. It is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer, with a man’s risk of dying being 1 in 5,000.
“First and foremost, the main risk factor for testicular cancer is a condition you call undescended testicles. Basically where the testicle doesn’t fully descend into the scrotum prior to birth,” said Dr. Michael Hall, Radiation Oncologist at The Medical Group of South Florida. “Most doctors agree that the testicular exam is an important part of the general physical exam on a yearly basis, some also prefer that men perform monthly self-exams in order to detect lesions at an early age.”
Who is at risk for testicular cancer?
Any male can get testicular cancer. But there are some factors that can increase your risk. These include:
- Undescended testicle. An undescended testicle is one of the main risk factors for testicular cancer. This risk might be lowered if surgery is done to correct the condition before a boy reaches puberty.
- Age. About half of testicular cancers start in men in their 20s and early 30s. But it can happen at any age.
- Race and ethnicity. White men have a higher risk for testicular cancer.
- Cancer in the other testicle. Men who have had cancer in one testicle are at higher risk for cancer in the other testicle.
- Family history. Men who have a father or brother with testicular cancer have a higher risk. But most men who have testicular cancer don’t have a family history of the disease.
- HIV infection. Men infected with HIV have a higher risk for testicular cancer.
What are your risk factors?
Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for testicular cancer and what you can do about them. Most risk factors for testicular cancer, such as your age and family history, are not under your control.
But if you find testicular cancer early, when it’s small and before it has spread, you have the best chance of a cure. There are no blood tests used to screen for testicular cancer in men without symptoms. But doing a testicular self-exam regularly may help you find cancer early. It is important to see your healthcare provider right away if you notice a lump on the testicle or have other symptoms. These include:
- Swelling of or change in a testicle
- Dull ache in the lower belly (abdomen)
- Heavy feeling in the lower belly
How to do a testicular self-exam
Get to know the normal size, shape, and weight of your testicles. This will help you notice any changes over time. It’s normal for one testicle to be lower or slightly larger than the other. Our providers advise that men do the exam during or right after taking a shower. This is because your scrotal skin is softer and more relaxed at this time. This makes it easier to feel any changes. Follow these steps to do a self-exam:
- Using both hands, gently roll each testicle between your fingers.
- Find the epididymis. This is a string-like structure on the top and back of each testicle. This is a normal part of the testicles.
- Feel for lumps under the skin, in the front, or along the sides of either testicle. A lump may feel like a kernel of uncooked rice or a small, hard pea.
We are here for you
Changes in the testicles can have causes other than cancer. But it’s important to see your healthcare provider if you’re unsure about anything you see or feel. Also, ask your healthcare provider about testicular exams during your regular checkups. Most healthcare providers agree that examining a man’s testicles should also be part of regular physical exams.
If you have concerns about a cancer diagnosis, please call our oncology department at (561) 721-6891 and make a consultation with Dr. Michael Hall, Radiation Oncologist at The Medical Group of South Florida. Dr. Hall can help walk you through the various treatment options available to your unique situation.
Book a consultation with Dr. Hall and start beating cancer today.