Researchers haven’t figured out how to prevent testicular cancer, but they do know this: finding it early offers the best chance for successful treatment.
Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer among men between the ages of 15 and 35, according to the National Cancer Institute. In fact, half of all testicular cancers occur in men ages 20 to 34. White, American men are up to five times more likely to get testicular cancer than men of other races.
Although some men may notice symptoms, testicular cancers can go undetected until they have spread.
“Any swelling, lump or pain should be brought immediately to your doctor’s attention,” said Dr. Donald Hastings, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at Patient Choice Oceana. “It is always best to have something checked early than to wait and see if your symptoms disappear.”
If the cancer has spread into other parts of the body, it can make it harder to treat. Fortunately, most testicular cancers can be cured even if they have spread.
Symptoms and signs that may be caused by testicular cancer include:
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- A painless lump or swelling in either testicle
- Changes in how the testicle feels
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin
- A sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum
- Enlargement of the breasts or tenderness
Although not all doctors agree that men should regularly perform testicular self-examinations, it’s important to discuss this option with a doctor. The best time to examine the testicles is during or after taking a bath or shower because the skin of the scrotum will be relaxed.
Some men may have a higher chance of getting testicular cancer if they have any of the following risk factors:
- Undescended testicle (cryptorchidism)
- An abnormal testicle
- Testicular carcinoma in situ
- A personal, or family history, of testicular cancer
- Being white
- Klinefelter syndrome – a condition that causes testicles to develop abnormally
“If you notice any abnormal changes or think you might have a symptom, get it checked out by your health care provider,” Hastings said. “Testicular cancer is highly treatable.”
Make time for an annual check up.