A Note About Sex And Gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms, male, female, or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. .
In this article, we will discuss the importance of testicular self-exams and how people can perform them at home.
It is advisable to perform a self-exam once a month from puberty onward. The exam itself will only take a few minutes. The best time is either during or straight after a shower or bath. This is because warm water relaxes the muscle within the scrotum and surrounding spermatic cords, which allows the testicles to descend farther, and makes it easier to feel any abnormalities.
The Center for Advocacy for Cancer of the Testes International and The British Association of Urological Surgeons recommend the following steps to perform a self-exam:
Who Is At Risk For Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer can occur in anyone with testicles, but some people have a higher risk. It’s more likely to affect young and middle-aged men aged 20 to 39, but it can occur in children and teens too. About 8% of cases occur in men over age 55.
You may have a higher risk of getting this type of cancer if someone else in your family has had testicular cancer. If you have had cancer in one testicle, you are also more likely to get it in the other.
Sometimes babies who are born early have a condition in which the testicle does not move into its usual position in the scrotum. If you had an undescended testicle as a baby, you may be at higher risk for testicular cancer.
White men have a higher risk of testicular cancer than Black, Asian or American Indian men. HIV infection also raises the risk.
How Does A Testicular Self
Simple self-exam techniques can help you learn how your testicles normally look and feel so that you can become aware of any changes that happen over time. Generally speaking, the more you know about whats normal for your body, the more likely you are to get ahead of many health issues, not just cancer. Testicular exams just take about 5 mins of your time, once a month, and can help to identify this cancer at its earliest stage.
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Are You At Higher Risk For Testicular Cancer
The most common testicular cancer risk factors include:
- Undescended testicleAlso known as cryptorchidism, this is when one or both testicles dont move from the abdomen into the scrotum before birth.
- Family historyHaving a brother or father previously diagnosed with testicular cancer may increase risk. A family history of Klinefelter syndrome, an inherited disease, is also linked to an increased risk.
- HIV infectionSome evidence shows that men with HIV have an increased risk of testicular cancer, especially those with AIDS.
- Race and ethnicityCaucasian men have a five times greater risk of developing testicular cancer than black men, and a three times greater risk compared with Asian-American or American Indian men. Hispanic/Latino men have a lower risk than Caucasian men but a higher risk than Asian-American men.
- Previous testicular cancerAbout 3 to 4 percent of men who have had testicular cancer go on to develop cancer in the other testicle.
- AgeMen ages 20 to 34 have the highest risk, although testicular cancer may develop at any age.
What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Testicular Cancer
Several factors may increase your testicular cancer risk. Risk factors dont cause testicular cancer, but they may increase its likelihood of developing.
Risk factors for testicular cancer include:
- Age: Testicular cancer most commonly affects people between ages 15 and 35.
- Undescended testicles: Testicles form in the abdomen of a fetus during pregnancy and usually drop into the scrotum before birth. Testicles that dont drop are called undescended testicles and may require surgery. Being born with this condition may increase your testicular cancer risk even if you have surgery.
- Race and ethnicity: Testicular cancer is more common among non-Hispanic whites in the United States and Europe.
- Personal or family history: You may be more likely to develop testicular cancer if a biological parent or sibling had it. Certain inherited genetic conditions, like Klinefelter Syndrome, may also increase your risk. Having testicular cancer in one testicle increases your likelihood of developing a second cancer in the other testicle.
- Infertility: Some of the same factors that cause infertility may also be related to the development of testicular cancer. More research is needed to understand the connection.
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What Are The Stages Of Testicular Cancer
Diagnosis also involves cancer staging. Staging provides important information that will guide treatment decisions, such as tumor size and whether the cancers spread.
- Stage 0: Abnormal cells have developed but are still inside the testicles where sperm cells start to develop. Stage 0 is also called germ cell neoplasia in situ .
- Stage I: Cancer is confined to the testicle, which may include nearby blood or lymph vessels. Tumor markers may or may not be elevated.
- Stage II: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the back of your abdomen but not anywhere else. If you have cancer in your lymph nodes along with moderately or highly elevated tumor markers, then youre in stage III rather than stage II.
- Stage III: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes beyond your abdomen or to an organ.
How To Do A Testicular Exam
Thereâs no harm in a self-exam, and doctors say itâs good to know how your testicles look and feel so you can notice any changes.
A self-exam is quick and painless. It takes only a few simple steps:
Donât worry if you feel a cordlike structure behind each testicle. Itâs a normal part of the part of the scrotum that stores and moves sperm. Itâs not a lump.
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What Is A Testicular Exam
A testicular exam is a check of the look and feel of your testicles, to see if there may be any problems. You or your doctor can do it.
How To Check For Testicular Cancer: Do A Self
Men ages 15-39 should know how to check for testicular cancer, which is the most common cancer among young and middle-aged men.
Almost 9,500 cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed each year, making it one of the most common cancers among young men in the United States. The average age of diagnosis is 33, but it can occur at any age, usually after puberty. Fortunately, the outlook for most cases of testicular cancer is quite good. In fact, the survival rate is greater than 97%, especially if the cancer is detected early before it spreads to other parts of the body.
Still, it’s important to know how to check for testicular cancer so you can be sure you catch it early. Doing a self-examination is a quick and easy way to safeguard your health.
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Do Some People Have Higher Risk Factors
A few factors may increase your chances of developing testicular cancer and make self-exams even more critical, including:
- Being born with an undescended testicle.
- Family history of testicular cancer.
Theres also an association between infertility and testicular cancer. In addition, testicular cancer is more common among people who are white.
How Often Should I Check
Its recommended that you perform a self-exam once a month. By checking regularly, youll have an easier time noticing when something has changed. Most men are intimately aware of their genitalia and any changes that occur. The most important lesson is that if you feel something abnormal, seek a professional opinion right away.
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Why The Test Is Performed
A testicular self-exam is done to check for testicular cancer.
Testicles have blood vessels and other structures that can make the exam confusing. If you notice any lumps or changes in a testicle, contact your health care provider right away.
Your provider may recommend that you do a testicular self-exam every month if you have any of the following risk factors:
- Family history of testicular cancer
- Past testicular tumor
However, if a man has no risk factors or symptoms, experts do not know if doing testicular self-exam lowers the chance of dying of this cancer.
Why Do I Need A Testicular Exam
Medical exams are usually pretty straightforward. Many parts of the exam make sense to most guys: The scale is used to weigh you, the stethoscope is used to listen to your heartbeat.
For other parts of your body, the doctor’s sense of touch and training are the key to knowing how things should feel. During the physical, the doctor will touch your belly to feel for any problems with your liver or spleen. The doc may also feel the lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, and groin to see if there is any swelling, which can indicate an infection or other problem.
The doctor also needs to touch and feel your testicles and the area around them to be sure they’re developing properly and there are no problems. Two possible problems that can affect teen guys are hernias and rarely testicular cancer.
What Are Hernias?
A hernia is when a part of the intestine pushes out from the abdomen and into the groin or scrotum . Most hernias happen because of a weakness in the abdominal wall that the person was born with. If a piece of intestine becomes trapped in the scrotum, it can cut off the blood supply to the intestine and cause serious problems if the situation isn’t quickly corrected.
What Is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is unusual in teen guys, but it can happen. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in guys aged 20 to 34, though a good reason to get in the habit of regular testicular exams.
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Do Testicular Lumps Hurt
The lumps that come with testicular cancer are often painless, meaning theyre not likely to draw attention and announce their presence in a typical something-is-wrong sort of way, notes Dr. Haywood.
So, its usually up to you to find them, which is why self-exams are recommended once a month after puberty.
Why Should I Check My Testicles For Cancer
Some experts doubt the usefulness of testicular self-exams, but these checkups can help men catch testicular cancer early. Although survival rates for all stages of the disease are relatively high, patients diagnosed later often require chemotherapy, which can have unpleasant side effects and toxicities. You should perform self-exams to spot cancer so it can be removed with surgery alone.
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Symptoms Of Testicular Cancer And Testicular Self
Symptoms of testicular cancer include a testicular lump that is usually painless , a sensation of heaviness in the scrotum, and a persistent ache in the affected testicle.
Take notice of anything unusual, such as:
- a lump or swelling in or on the testicle itself
- change in testicular size
- change in the consistency or feel of the testicle.
How Often Should You Check Your Testicles
Most healthcare providers recommend performing a self-check once every month. By checking regularly, males will have an easier time noticing when something has changed.
Some researchers suggest:
- Reinforcing proper guidelines for testicular self-exams
- Patient education about the success rate in treating early-detected testicular cancers
- Making this examination a routine part of adolescent and adult male overall health and wellness self-care
The American Cancer Society does not have specific guidelines about the frequency of testicular self-exams. The United States Preventive Services Task Force states that there is a lack of evidence that testicular self-exams are beneficial for reducing mortality .
The USPSTF recommendation asserts that the potential harmsmainly anxietyoutweigh the benefits of self-screening. There is also a high risk of false-positive results. However, considerable evidence in the literature support self-exams as helpful in detecting testicular cancer.
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What To Look Out For
- A lump – pea shaped, round shaped or may even feel like a piece of rice.
- Swelling in a testicle, which is usually painless – occasionally the swelling may suddenly increase in size and become painful.
- Pain or heaviness in the scrotum.
Lumps and bumps on the testicles may be other things, but you still must get this checked out!
Orchid cancer has produced a leaflet to help raise awareness of testicular health with step by step instructions on how to perform a testicular self-examination.
How To Perform A Testicular Self
A self-exam should be done during or after a shower because the heat will relax the skin of the scrotum and make it easier to perform a self-exam.
To perform a testicular self-exam, follow the steps below:
You may find it helpful to perform the exam in front of a mirror. You could even incorporate visual cues into your environment, such as a reminder on your bathroom mirror, or a smartphone reminder, to ensure this becomes a regular part of your self-care regime.
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Ethical Approval And Consent
The study was approved by the facilities’ ethical boards. A standardized description of the study’s goals and procedures, data uses and protection and rights of respondents were provided in both written and verbal forms to all respondents before obtaining informed and verbal consent for participating in the survey. Respondents were free to decline participation, not respond to any question or opt out completely at any time during the interview without reprimand.
How The Test Is Performed
You can do this test during or after a shower. This way, the scrotal skin is warm and relaxed. It is best to do the test while standing.
- Gently feel your scrotal sac to locate a testicle.
- Use one hand to stabilize the testicle. Use your fingers and thumb of the other hand to firmly but gently feel the testicle. Feel the entire surface.
- Check the other testicle in the same way.
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What Is Testicular Cancer
While relatively rare, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in American males between the ages of 15-35. Self-exams can really pay off because testicular cancer, when detected early, has a nearly 99% survival rate.
This type of cancer occurs in the testicles, which are located inside the scrotum. The testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm.
Symptoms Of Testicular Cancer
Of course, it always helps to know what youre looking for. Remember that these symptoms could also indicate other conditions. So if you develop any of these, head for your doctor to get checked out professionally. Sooner is better than later.
Common symptoms include:
- Painless bump or lump on your testicle
- Swollen testicle
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Screening Information For Testicular Cancer
Most often, testicular cancer can be found at an early stage. Many people find the cancer themselves while performing a self-examination. Or a sexual partner may notice a change that leads to a diagnosis.
Some doctors recommend that men ages 15 to 55 perform a monthly self-examination to find any changes. Monthly testicular self-examinations, performed after a warm shower, can help find the cancer at an early stage, when it is more likely to be successfully treated. People who notice a lump, hardness, enlargement, pain, or any other change in 1 or both of their testicles should visit their doctor immediately.
The next section in this guide is Symptoms and Signs. It explains what body changes or medical problems testicular cancer can cause. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.