Testicular cancer affects the testicles, the male sex organs located inside the scrotum behind the penis.
Testicles have a vital role in the male reproductive system as they produce sperm, as well as the hormone testosterone
There are several different types of testicular cancer, the most common being germ cell testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer is actually a rare cancer, making up only 1% of the cancers that affect males.
But it’s the cancer that most commonly affects boys and men aged between 15 and 49, and it usually affects younger men.
This means that around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year.
What Are the Warning Signs of Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer symptoms include one or more of the following:
- A painless lump or swelling in one testicle. The lump may be similar to the size of a pea but could also be bigger.
- A change to the texture or shape of your testicle. For example, one testicle may feel firmer than usual.
- You may get either a dull ache or a sharp pain in your scrotum or testicle. The ache or pain may not be there all the time.
- You may experience a heavy feeling in your scrotum.
- One testicle may look different from the other.
- Breast soreness and growth, caused by germ cell tumours releasing a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), is another symptom of testicular cancer.
You should also know that some men don’t experience any testicular cancer symptoms at all. Their cancer may be found during tests for other conditions, such as infertility.
What Are the Risk Factors for Testicular Cancer?
While it’s not known exactly what causes testicular cancer, there are some risk factors:
- Family history of testicular cancer
- Testicles that don’t drop before birth, a condition known as undescended testes
- Abnormal cells found in the testicles called germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS). These are usually detected during tests for infertility
How Can I Perform a Testicular Cancer Self-Check?
It’s a great idea to carry out a testicular cancer check on yourself as part of your health and wellness routine. Perform a testicular self-exam once a month for early detection of any signs. Here’s what to do:
1. After a warm bath or shower, check each testicle in turn, rolling it between the thumb and fingers and making sure you feel its entire surface. You might find it easier to do this in front of a mirror. The firmness of the testicles should be the same. Remember that it’s normal for one to be bigger than the other. Check for lumps and swelling.
2. Locate the epididymis, a tube at the back of each testicle, and check this area for lumps and swelling too.
3. Doing these self-examinations, you should be able to identify what does and doesn’t feel normal for you.
You shouldn’t experience any pain when you do your self-exam and your testicles should feel smooth and firm.
What Sort of Medical Exam Should I Get?
If you do find anything you are worried about, your next step is to get a medical examination.
Ultrasound is an effective way of detecting any abnormalities, which uses high frequency sound waves to build up a picture of what’s going on inside your body.
When you go for your testicular ultrasound, you may be asked to remove your clothing and wear a hospital gown.
A lubricating gel will be applied to your skin to allow the ultrasound probe to move around.
Your ultrasound test will be able to show abnormalities such as a solid lump that might be cancer or other conditions, such as harmless fluid-filled cysts.
As well as being effective, it’s a very safe medical test that has been used for decades with none of the risks associated with other tests like x-rays, for example.
It’s painless, although may feel a little uncomfortable, and no downtime is required, so you can go straight back to your everyday life afterwards.
Why Is Early Detection So Important?
When it comes to testicular cancer, early detection is so important because it means you can start the right treatment sooner, with a high chance of being cured.
In fact, testicular cancer is known as one of the most treatable forms of cancer, with one of the best prognoses.
Statistics say that 99% of men diagnosed with testicular cancer will survive for a year or over following diagnosis, and 98% will survive for five years or more.
Nearly every man who is diagnosed with germ cell testicular cancer, which accounts for 95% of testicular cancers, will be cured. It’s very unusual for it to come back more than five years later.
Rest assured that the majority of patients who are diagnosed with testicular cancer can be treated effectively and cured.
You should also know that even if you find a lump or swelling in your testicle, it may not necessarily be a sign of testicular cancer. Lumps may be varicocele, which is a swollen blood vessel, or an epididymal cyst, which is a cyst in the tube near the testicle.
Swelling may also be caused by injury or infection.
If you do find a lump, swelling or any other symptom, then it’s best to get checked out as soon as you can so you can either be reassured that it’s nothing serious or can take the next step to effective treatment without delay.
What Are the Treatment Options for Testicular Cancer?
If you’ve been diagnosed with testicular cancer, then it is likely that the affected testicle will be removed. But this does not usually impact fertility or having sex.
Sometimes chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be offered for more unusual types of testicular cancer called seminomas.
Scans by Specialists with Same-Day Results
It’s good to know what the warning signs of testicular cancer are and how to check your body regularly for any symptoms.
If you do have a concern, it’s best to get checked out as soon as possible. Harley Street Ultrasound offers scans by specialist consultants with same-day results so you spend less time worrying, and you’ll get timely advice on further management and the next steps.
Your testicular ultrasound will also include:
- A one-to-one consultation with a doctor
- A full digital report
- High-res digital images
No referral is required and it’s easy to book online, so get in touch with us straight away for the peace of mind that comes with fast results.