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CARE

Taking the taboo out of testicular cancer

It’s the cancer no one is comfortable talking about, yet testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer among young adult men. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 10,000 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer this year and the average age of diagnosis is 33 years. But many young men are not aware of their risk.

Most cancers are associated with advance aging; the older you are the greater your risk of developing some form of cancer. For example, among men the average age of prostate cancer is 66, the average age for colon cancer is 68 and the average age of lung cancer is 70. So young, healthy men may think they have nothing to worry about. But testicular cancer is a young man’s disease. And young men need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer, which include:

  • a painless lump or swelling in a testicle
  • pain, discomfort or numbness in a testicle or scrotum
  • feeling of heaviness in a testicle or scrotum
  • dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.

Advanced symptoms can include pain in the back, legs and chest, difficulty breathing, breast tenderness and swelling in the legs.

The good news is, when found early, testicular cancer is highly treatable. If you notice any of these symptoms, please see your health care provider.

Self-examinations

So let’s get comfortable with knowing your own body by learning how to do a self-examination. It is recommended that men examine their testicles about once a month. Do the following examination during or after a bath or shower when your scrotum is relaxed. Check each testicle separately by cupping it between your hands. Gently roll the testicle between your fingers. You are looking and feeling for any hard lumps or for any changes in size, shape or consistency. If you notice a change, make an appointment with your doctor.

Most men with testicular cancer do not have risk factors, but there are a few, including:

  • history of an undescended testicle
  • family history of testicular cancer
  • personal history of abnormal testicle development
  • white race

If you have questions about testicular cancer, talk with your health care provider. He or she can help you determine your risk and teach you what to look for during a self-examination. Don’t let embarrassment, your young age or fear of cancer keep you from performing this life-saving check.

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