Although testicular cancer is becoming more common health problem, most people still do not want to talk about this topic, mainly due to embarrassment. But, we have decided to break the “taboo” because it is very important for every man to know more about this disease.
It is estimated that about 8,720 men in the United States will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2016. The average age of diagnosis is only 33. Usually, the first sign of testicular cancer is a change in the size or shape of one or both testicles. In most cases, this change doesn’t cause pain.
Most health professionals recommend that men between the age of 15 and 40 should regularly perform a testicular self-examination. The self-check will lead to early detection, and it is especially important for everyone who has undescended testicles or family history of testicular cancer.
How to Do the Testicular Cancer Self-Exam: Hold your penis out of the way and check one testicle at a time. Keep the testicle between your thumbs and fingers of both hands and roll it gently between your fingers to find out whether there are any lumps or bumps or changes in the size and the shape of the testicles.
Here are The Most Common Symptoms of Testicular Cancer:
- A swelling and/or lump in one or both testicles. You may or may not have pain in the testes or scrotum.
- A heavy feeling in the scrotum.
- A pain or feeling of pressure in the lower belly or groin.
- In rare cases, germ cell tumors can cause breast growth or soreness. Some tumors cell may make estrogen, which can lead to breast growth or loss of sexual appetite.
- Early puberty in boys: Some cell tumors can make androgens (male sex hormones), which may not cause any symptoms in men, but in boys they can cause signs of a puberty at a very early age (like a deepening voice and growth of facial and body hair).
1. It is normal that one testicle is a little bit larger than the other
2. It is also normal that one testicle hangs lower than the other.
The Symptoms of Testicular Cancer in Later Stages:
Advanced stage of testicular cancer is when cancer has spread to other organs. The symptoms depend on the affected parts. Some symptoms of late-stage testicular cancer are:
- Severe pain in the lower back and belly that occurs as a result of cancer spreading to the lymph nodes in the back of the belly.
- Constant lack of energy, sweating without reason, recurrent fever, and frequent feeling of illness.
- Shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain: In some cases, coughing up blood may develop if the cancer has spread to the lungs.
- Frequent headache or confusion: When the cancer has spread to the brain.
- Belly Pain: It occurs from either enlarged lymph nodes or because the cancer has spread to the liver.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Many non-cancerous conditions like testicle injury or inflammation may cause symptoms that are very similar to those of testicular cancer. For example, inflammation of the testicle (orchitis) or inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) may lead to swelling and pain in one or both testicles.
Here Are Some Testicular Exams and Tests:
- Testicular Ultrasound: This test can be used to rule out other possible causes of an enlarged, or painful testicle before the testicle is removed.
- Blood Tests: Testicular cancers often produce high levels of some hormones that can be measured through blood tests. Doctors call them tumor markers. There are 3 different tumor markers that can be made by testicular cancer: Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP), Beta-Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (ß-HCG) and Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH).
- Imaging tests: Like Chest-X-ray, and CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
Testicular cancer is probably the most curable form of cancer, especially if it is detected in its early stages. We recommend you to perform self-exam once a month. If you feel like there is something unusual, you should consult with a doctor immediately.