An Overview of Testicular Cancer
Cells in the body normally divide (reproduce) only when new cells are needed. Sometimes cells will divide for no reason and without order, creating a mass of tissue called a tumor. Tumors can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Testicular cancer is a malignant tumor in a testicle. The testicles are oval-shaped sex glands in a sac of skin called the scrotum. The scrotum is located behind the penis.
This type of cancer, although relatively rare, mostly affects men between ages of 15 and 35 (although it can affect males at any age).
How Can I Prevent Testicular Cancer?
You can detect testicular cancer by doing a monthly testicular self-exam. Such an exam is a way that men can look for signs of cancer of the testicles. To do a self-exam, follow these steps.
- Do the exam after a warm shower or bath. The warmth relaxes the skin of the scrotum, making it easier to feel for anything unusual.
- Use both hands to examine each testicle. Place your index and middle fingers underneath the testicle and your thumbs on top. Roll the testicle between your thumbs and fingers. (It's normal for testicles to be different sizes.)
- As you feel the testicle, you may notice a cord-like structure on top and in back of the testicle. This structure is called the epididymis. It stores and transports sperm. Do not confuse it with a lump.
- Feel for any lumps. Lumps can be pea-size or larger and are often painless. If you notice a lump, contact your doctor. Also check for any change in size, shape, or consistency of the testes.
- You should also get a physical exam once a year.
After a while, you will know how your testicles feel and will be more alert to any changes.
What Are the Symptoms of Testicular Cancer?
Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- A lump in either testicle.
- An enlarged (swollen) testicle.
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.
- A sudden gathering of fluid in the scrotum.
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
- Low back pain
- Swollen breasts