Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men aged 25-49. Around 2400 men are diagnosed with it each year in the UK, and nearly half (47%) of these will be aged under 35, according to Cancer Research UK figures.
While this does sound alarming, the good news is that testicular cancer is actually very treatable – survival rates have increased to 98% over recent decades – but starting treatment as early as possible is vital.
With this in mind, knowing how to self-examine your testicles and spot any potential symptoms of testicular cancer is important. Here, leading London andrologist Mr Suks Minhas talks through the correct way to self-examine for signs of testicular cancer.
How often should you check your testicles? “Men should regularly self-examine, once a week is what I usually encourage,” says Suks. “In the bath or shower, have a feel.” Doing this regularly means you’ll be familiar with what feels ‘normal’ for you, so it’ll be easier to spot any unusual changes.
Any lumps or bumps should be checked out “Any lumps or bumps or concerns, then you should go and see a doctor as soon as possible,” adds Suks. Remember, lumps don’t automatically mean you have cancer – a number of things can cause lumps on or around the testes, including benign cysts or blockages – but it’s always best to get them properly checked by a doctor immediately, even if they’re small, just to be on the safe side.
Look out for any signs of swelling too Lumps might be what we most commonly associate with testicular cancer, but they’re not the only warning sign. “The issue with testis cancer is that it can present in a variety of ways. So not only just a lump, sometimes you can get swelling or fluid on the testes too,” says Suks. “A doctor can arrange an ultrasound scan to have a look at what’s going on.” This might feel like increased firmness or heaviness, or you might notice that one testicle has started to feel different to the other.
Don’t ignore testicular pain either Whether it’s a dull ache in your testicles or lower groin area, or sharp, shooting pains or general soreness that’s causing concern, if you start experiencing any unusual or unexplained pain in or around your testicles (ie. you haven’t been obviously injured recently), then get it checked out.