The importance of doing testicular self-exams
In 2015, about 380 men will die of testicular cancer.
Although testicular cancer is considered relatively rare compared to other cancers, it is actually the most common cancer for American adolescent males between the ages of 15 and 35.
According to Mayo Clinic, “testicular cancer occurs in the testicles (testes), which are located inside the scrotum, a loose bag of skin underneath the penis. The testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction.”
Some risk factors for developing testicular cancer include having cryptorchidism, also known as an undescended testicle, congenital abnormalities such as abnormalities of the penis, kidneys or testicles, having a family history of testicular cancer or having previously had testicular cancer.
A positive about testicular cancer is that this disease is highly treatable, even when the cancer has spread beyond the testicle. However, with all diseases, prevention is an important part.
Regular testicular self-examination can help identify any growths in the testicular cells early on, which allows for a higher chance of successful treatment.
A testicular self-examination is an easy way for men to regularly check their own testicles for any unusual lumps and bumps that could be the first signs of testicular cancer.
Most of the time, an irregular lump is the first symptom of testicular cancer. However, sometimes testicular cancer can appear in testicles that have become swollen or larger than normal without a bump.
It is important to do an exam at least once a month in order to be familiar with the shape and size of the testicles and be able to discern any abnormalities.
A self-examination is best done during or right after a hot shower or bath since this is the time the scrotum is most relaxed, making it easier to examine the testicles.
The American Cancer Society provides detailed and informational instructions on how to perform a testicular self-examination: “Hold your penis out of the way and check one testicle at a time. Hold the testicle between your thumb and fingers of both hands and roll it gently between your fingers. Look and feel for any hard lumps or smooth rounded bumps or any change in the size, shape and consistency of the testicles.”
It is natural for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other for most guys. The epididymis is a soft, rope-like and slightly tender to pressure sperm-carrying tube that is located at the top of the back part of each testicle. This lump is also normal.
Teen Health advises that “when examining each testicle, feel for any lumps or bumps along the sides or the front. Lumps may be as small as a piece of rice or a pea.”
Any pain or aches in the groin area, as well as any swelling, lumps or changes in size or color of a testicle, should be reported to and checked by a doctor immediately.
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