Managing the risk of testicular cancer

Managing the risk of testicular cancer

Developing testicular cancer is a fear that looms large within any man’s life. Fortunately, you can significantly boost your chances of combating the disease by taking certain steps now.

Signs & symptoms

Start by looking out for the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer. As advised by some experts, see a doctor immediately if you notice any of these things . Keep in mind, though, that these symptoms will likely have been caused by something other than testicular cancer. This is not an exhaustive list.

A lump or swelling in the testicles

More often than not, the first symptom of a testicular cancer will be a lump or swelling in part of one testicle. So, be on the lookout for an unusual difference between one of your testicles and the other. That said, it’s important to remember that most testicular lumps are not cancer.

Otherwise, a feeling of heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or scrotum can also mean testicular cancer.

Breast growth or soreness

Though rare, there have been cases where germ cell tumours have made male breasts either grow or become sore . As for why, some types of germ cell tumours secrete high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone that stimulates breast development.

Added to that, some Leydig cell tumours can produce estrogen (female sex hormones), which can lead to breast growth, as well as loss of sexual desire.

Early puberty in boys

Some Leydig cell tumours can produce male sex hormones called androgens . These tumours may cause signs of puberty to show up in boys at an abnormally early age: a deepening voice, as well as the growth of facial and body hair.

Discomfort or pain in a testicle or the scrotum

Though testicular cancer isn’t usually painful, around 20% of sufferers experience a sharp pain in the testicle or the scrotum as a first symptom.

Self-examination

Some doctors feel all men ought to examine their testicles every month after puberty, especially men with risk factors: an undescended testicle, previous testicular cancer, or a family member who’s had the disease . As for how to do it, the best time to check your testicles for cancer is during or after a bath or shower – when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed.

Then, hold your penis out of the way and check your testicles one at a time . Next, hold your testicle between your thumbs and fingers of both hands . Roll it gently between your fingers . You’re looking for any hard lumps, smooth rounded bumps, or any change in the testicle’s size, shape or consistency .

Keep in mind that it’s normal for one testicle to be a bit larger than the other, or to hang lower . It’s also important to remember that a testicle can get larger for reasons that exclude cancer.

Check ups

Many doctors recommend that checking your testicles be part of a general physical exam , as testicular cancer can almost always be treated successfully if discovered early.

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In the interest of our patients, in accordance with South African law and our commitment to expertise, MediHub cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.