Now that you know some of the symptoms of having testicular cancer, how can you know what to do in order to look for these abnormalities? Self exams are extremely important to have in your routine. It’s recommended that every month, people perform a self exam to make sure that everything feels right. While it’s common for one testicle to be larger than the other, you can still use each to compare to the other. This is especially good when you remember that testicular cancer is typically isolated to one testicle. Here is the best technique on how to perform your self exam!

 - Using a gentle pinch around your testicle, examine each testicle by rolling it between your fingers.

 - When rolling it between your fingers, you’ll come across a soft, tube-like structure called the epididymis.To someone who has never felt this before, it might feel abnormal, but it is actually used to collect and carry sperm.

 - Feel for any pea-sized bumps, lumps or other irregular masses. They may present themselves as painless, so consult your doctor with any findings you may have. Sometimes cysts can be mistaken as these abnormalities, but these can be equally as problematic if not addressed.

 - If there are no masses, still check for any changes in size, shape or even texture. It might be normal for one testicle to be larger than the other, but any quick increase or decrease in size can present issues related to testicular cancer.

The best time to perform these self exams is during or after a warm bath or shower when the scrotum is relaxed and stretchier. 

While self exams can help detect the early stages of testicular cancer, only a doctor can diagnose it. With a physical exam, a doctor will perform similar tests to the self exam, but are trained to know exactly what to look for. If something feels problematic, they may schedule an ultrasound. Ultrasounds are used to see internally using sound waves to see a better picture of your body. These can be used to much more easily tell if these masses are cancerous. Blood tests can also be used to determine if there is cancer in your system. In the worst case scenarios, whether cancer is found or extremely likely, surgery is the next option to either remove the cancer or the diseased testicle.

Let’s look at the statistics. Sadly, the rate of this cancer has slowly been increasing in the United States and other countries.When detected early, testicular cancer is over 95% curable.  Because of the treatment being so successful, the risk of death is very low, roughly 1 in 5000. Some of the main risk factors in people who get testicular cancer are undescended testicles, urological birth defects, family history and it is more common in Caucasian people. Testicular cancer is also the leading cancer in people ages 15 - 44, but can be diagnosed at any age. Within this age range, more people will die of testicular cancer than people diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you have further concerns or think you may have any abnormalities with your self exam, consult your doctor as soon as possible! Be sure to keep an eye out for more information this month as we continue to discuss and learn about Testicular Cancer. For more information, check out https://www.testicularcancerawarenessfoundation.org for more information!