Q. What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles – the two small oval-shaped organs hanging below the penis in a pouch of skin called the scrotum. Their function is to produce sperm and testosterone. The overall cure rate is greater than 90% for testicular cancer detected at an early stage.
Q. What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?
Your risk to develop testicular cancer increases if you
- have a history of cryptorchidism, i.e. testicle(s) that have not descended into the scrotum
- have a family or personal history of testicular cancer
- are white
- have fertility problems
- have had a rare complication of mumps called mumps orchitis
Q. What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?
Most testicular cancer can be detected at an early stage. Symptoms include:
- a lump on either testicle
- enlargement of either testicle
- heaviness/aching in the lower abdomen/scrotum
- pain/discomfort in the testicle/scrotum
Q. How is testicular cancer identified?
For early detection, examine yourself regularly.
Should you find a lump, your doctor may refer you for an ultrasound scan or blood tests. If the ultrasound can’t rule out cancer, you will probably be asked to consider having your testicle removed. Removing one testicle does not affect your ability to have an erection or father children, and it’s the only way of being certain about the nature of the lump.
Q. How to examine yourself for testicular cancer?
Check yourself monthly during a warm shower. Note any increase in size and gently feel each testicle individually. You’ll feel a soft tube at the top and back of the testicle which may feel slightly tender – this is normal. The testicle itself should be smooth with no lumps. If you do detect a swelling, make an appointment and have it checked by your doctor.