Testicular cancer is a relatively rare condition, but it is the most common cancer found amongst men aged 20 to 35 years. Fortunately, it is also one of the most successful to treat. Like any cancer, the earlier it is detected, the more successful treatment tends to be.
With early detection, almost 90% of cases can be cured, but even later on the cure rate can be as high as 80%. There are some things which seem to increase your chances of developing testicular cancer later in life. All men should undertake regular self-examination of the testicles, but this especially applies to those men who have a family history of testicular cancer or who have experienced conditions such as undescended testicle, mumps orchitis or hydrocele.
Self examination is best undertaken regularly – perhaps on the first day of the month, to establish a routine. Some men find examination of their testicles easier than others because some are more sensitive to the touch. The examination is usually recommended while in the bath or shower, when both the man and his testicles are relaxed. Using a soapy thumb and forefinger you should gently rub over the surface of each testicle, feeling for any lumps.
The epididymus, behind the testicles, may feel lumpy but this is normal. You should also be feeling for a change in firmness. Testicles may be soft or firm, but they should not be hard. You are more familiar with the feel of your testicles than anyone else and will probably be able to detect any changes, if any, far more quickly and easily. Any changes should be reported to your doctor.
Don’t assume that any changes mean you have cancer – they are far more likely to be something else. The most common indicator of testicular cancer is the gradual growth of an entire testicle or the development of a small lump on it. There may be an accompanying feeling of heaviness, but there is not necessarily any pain. Remember that not all lumps that are detected on examination will be cancerous. With cancer that has not spread, treatment will usually involve the surgical removal of the affected testicle.
Other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy might also be used, depending upon the kind of cancer found and how much. If the cancer has spread, then more involved therapy will have to be used, and these are best discussed with your doctor or specialist.