Testicular cancer can affect males of all ages. According to statistics, it most commonly occurs between the ages of 15 and 44. Fortunately, this disease is relatively rare and is also very treatable. When detected early, the prognosis for full remission is exceptionally good. To catch testicular cancer early, though, we must be willing to talk about it. The more educated men are, the better their chances of identifying the signs of this condition and getting the care they need.
The testicles are integral to male reproduction. These two small glands reside in the scrotum. They are egg-shaped and slightly spongy but also firm. Firmness should be consistent throughout the testicles but men should not be alarmed if one feels larger than the other. A rubbery, tube-like structure may also be felt along the top and outside edge of the scrotum. This is the epididymis.
A painless lump in the testicle is the most common sign of testicular cancer. Additional symptoms include:
- Testicular swelling or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. This may or may not feel painful.
- A dull ache or pain in the testicle, scrotum, or groin area.
- Breast tenderness or other changes in breast tissue.
Managing the Risks of Testicular Cancer
The best way to manage the risk of testicular cancer is to perform self-examinations monthly. This takes just a few minutes and can be done in the shower. The self-exam should include:
- Rolling one testicle at a time between the thumb and forefinger. Feel for firmness throughout the testicle.
- Find the tube-like epididymis and vas deferens behind the testicles and palpate them gently just to get used to the way they feel.
- Feel for bumps, lumps, or swelling that were not there before. Even if they are painless, they are not normal.
Monthly self-examinations lead to familiarity with the testicles so a man knows when he should schedule a visit with his doctor. Understandably, it can be frightening to feel an abnormality in any area of the body. Men who find one or begin to experience testicular or groin pain must understand that their chances of having testicular cancer are pretty low and also that, if they were diagnosed, the disease is curable.
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