Self-exams can help detect testicular cancer — the most common cancer among young men
Most men aren’t thinking about cancer during their 20s and 30s when they’re establishing careers and families; however, that’s exactly the time when testicular cancer typically appears.
Testicular cancer, which is rare but highly treatable, is the most common cancer among men ages 15 to 34, with 33 being the average age for diagnosis. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that this year 9,560 men will be diagnosed and about 400 men will die of the disease.
“Men with a family history of the disease or an undescended testicle are more likely to be diagnosed; however, men of all ages should watch for testicular cancer by doing self-exams and report any concerning findings to their doctor,” said Neel Srikishen, M.D., urologist with Houston Methodist Urology Associates. “Even if it doesn’t hurt, testicular swelling or a lump on the testicle is cause for concern.”
Painless swelling is the usual symptom of testicular cancer, but in some cases, the lump or swelling does cause pain. Additional symptoms may include aching or pain in the lower abdomen or groin or a sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum.
Looking for Changes
Before they can notice changes, men need to know the usual look and feel of their testicles. It’s normal for testicles to be different sizes or for one to hang lower than the other. Additionally, what may feel like a bump could actually be blood vessels or other normal tissue.
Although ACS doesn’t have a recommended schedule for self-exams, some doctors advise men to check their testicles monthly. During self-exams, feel for changes to the testicle’s size, shape and consistency. Be sure to see your physician within two weeks of noticing any suspicious changes; delaying a visit gives time for a cancer that may be present to grow and spread to other parts of the body. For localized testicular cancer, the prognosis is very hopeful – the five-year survival rate is 99 percent.
“An annual checkup with your doctor is still the most important screening method,” added Srikishen, “because most men don’t have any risk factors. This makes awareness of testicular cancer even more important.”
In honor of Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is lit up purple for the month of April. To schedule an appointment with Neel Srikishen, M.D., please call 281.276.5280.