Why you need a regular testicular exam

5th Dec 2019| by Colin Katz
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You could save your life

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 25 to 35 years of age. This cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of one or both of the testicles. Testicular cancer can often be successfully cured if there is early detection and the tumour has not spread.

Cancer can become fatal when the cells move from the original tumour and spread to other tissues and organs. There are 3 ways testicular cancer can travel into other parts of the body, these include growing into the tissues of nearby area, spreading through the lymph nodes, and getting into the blood stream.

Some medical experts have concluded that a testicular examination included in your annual check-up is sufficient. Other doctors believe that early detection also requires more than an annual exam, and that a regimen of self-examination should be included.

What to look for if you self-examine

Here are some signs that should be noted if you self-examine your testicles:

  • A painless lump or swelling in either testicle, or a change in the firmness of the testicle.
  • A constant dull ache in the groin or lower abdomen.
  • A build-up of fluid in the scrotum which holds the testicles in place.
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum.

If you experience any of these symptoms, there is no reason to panic. It does not necessarily mean that you have cancer or any other serious condition, but you need to visit the doctor to establish exactly what the problem is. The doctor will do the necessary tests which can include blood tests, a physical examination of the testes, and possibly also a scan, or an ultra sound exam, before making a diagnosis.

How to do a self-exam of the testicles

The self-examination is quick and painless. There are some simple steps to follow which include:

  • The best time to do it is after a warm shower or bath. Heat relaxes the skin of the scrotum making it easier to feel the testicle.
  • Remember to hold the penis out of the way.
  • Examine one testicle at a time using both hands, rolling it between your thumb and fingers.
  • One testicle may be a different shape or size to the other, but if there are no symptoms present, this is quite normal.
  • Behind each testicle there is a slightly hard cord-like structure that stores and moves sperm.

This is not a lump. What you are actually looking for is a hard roundish lump which is usually no bigger than a pea. If you feel something like that, contact your doctor.

Risk factors

Testicular cancer cannot really be prevented by diet or other means, but there are a couple of risk factors to note:

  • Family history may raise your risk.
  • White men have a slightly higher risk than men of a darker race.
  • If there is evidence of an undescended testicle, it could be an issue.

The key to surviving testicular cancer, is to seek medical intervention if you notice anything unusual.

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December 05, 2019

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