Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer for men aged 15 – 39.

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is the presence of cancer cells or a cancerous growth in or on the testicles.

Although many young men get diagnosed with testicular cancer, it is very treatable if caught early enough.

Most abnormalities or lumps in your testicles turn out not be cancer, but if you notice anything unusual, get it checked out by a doctor pronto to make sure.

Using both hands, roll one of your testicles between your thumb and fingers to check for any lumps or bumps. They can be smaller than a pea. Check all around the testicle. This is best done in a warm environment, like when you’re in the shower. Don’t do it when you have an erection because that pulls your testicles up and makes them difficult to examine. Don’t play favourites, repeat with your other testicle. Do this every month.

testicle-self-exam

What’s normal?

  • Smooth and firm, comfortable to touch
  • One testicle is slightly bigger
  • The left side often hangs lower

What’s not?

  • Lumps or swelling on one or both of your testicles
  • An area of harness on one or both of your testicles
  • Testicles feel heavier than usual or have changed shape
  • Pain or tenderness

Testicular cancer is most common in young men between 15 – 39. It is very rare in older men.

It is not known what causes testicular cancer, but boys who were born with undescended testes are more at risk.

Maori men also have considerably higher rates of testicular cancer than non-Maori men.

If you find any lumps, have hardness, swelling or pain in the testicles, make an appointment to see your doctor.

There are two initial tests for testicular cancer:

  • Physical exam
  • Ultrasound

In the physical exam, your doctor will feel your testicles for signs of swelling, tenderness, or hardness. The doctor may also feel your abdomen, neck, chest, armpits and groin for signs of enlarged nymph nodes to check for signs of cancer. This could indicate you have testicular cancer that has spread. They might also check your legs for signs of swelling. Blood clots can also be caused by testicular cancer.

In the ultrasound, the radiologist will look for unusual lumps in the testicles and scrotum. If there is a lump, the ultrasound will pinpoint exactly where, what size, and how dense the lump is.

If both these tests show warning signs then your doctor might recommend a blood test or biopsy where a sample of the lump is taken to confirm if it is cancer.

Depending on the size and stage of the cancer, you will be offered different treatment options.

For most men, the best option is to have surgery to remove the testicle with the tumour. This is a simple surgery, done under local anaesthetic, all done in a matter of hours. Don’t worry, removal of the testicle has absolutely no affect on your fertility or testosterone levels.

If the cancer is in later stages, or has spread, one or a combination of the following may be needed: medication, surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy. Your doctor will help you choose the best treatment for you.

USEFUL RESOURCES

Here are some useful brochures and resources that you can download and view for more information on testicular cancer.

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