Certain cancers are specific to men, including testicular cancer, which primarily affects the testicles. It is prevalent in men aged 15 to 45 years and is one of the most common curable cancers when detected early and treated on time, as per the research published by StatsPearl Publishing. Regular screening is therefore one of the two crucial steps in identifying testicular cancer in its early stages. A Testicular Self-Exam (TSE) is an effective way for men to check their testicles for any signs of the disease. In an interaction with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr Shubham Garg, Senior Consultant-Surgical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Noida, shared what to look out for.
Early Signs Of Testicular Cancer
According to Dr Garg, testicular cancer is not a common cancer. However, it is one of the most completely curable cancers, he noted.
Discussing its symptoms, he said, “Testicular cancer in its early stages can be picked up as an abnormally enlarged testis on one of the sides. It can also present as an abnormal shape of the testis as compared to the other side.”
In addition, many patients complain of dull, aching pain on the side of the cancer, along with pain radiating to the abdomen.
If the cancer is in its late stage, it may present as a mass in the abdomen with other bowel-related ailments, like pain in the abdomen, decreased appetite, and constipation, the doctor further shared.
Self-Awareness Is Key
Testicular cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body has a five year relative survival rate of 99%, but if it spreads beyond the testicles and the lymph nodes, it has a five year relative survival rate of 73%, according to Cancer.Net.
Dr Garg said, “Chances of testicular cancer are less than one in one lac males, and hence it is not a very common cancer.
However, it mostly affects young patients in the age group of 18 to 35 and also peaks in the age group of more than 60 years, he added.
Therefore, self-awareness is extremely crucial to picking up testicular cancer in the early stages, according to the doctor.
You can conduct a self-examination by palpating the testicles to identify abnormal sizes and shapes of the testis.
“People with undescended testes or testis that have descended late need to be more careful,” Dr Garg said, recommending a simple blood test for tumour markers.
Steps To Check For Testicular Cancer
A TSE is an effective way to detect testicular cancer at an early stage. Here is how you can examine the testicles for any signs of cancer:
- Stand in front of a mirror.
- Gently hold one testicle at a time between your thumb and fingers.
- Roll the testicle between your fingers, feeling for any hard lumps, swelling, or changes in the appearance.
- Repeat the process with the other testicle.
- Feel the back of each testicle for the epididymis, a soft, rope-like structure. This is not an abnormal lump.
- Address any unusual changes or discomfort to a doctor.
According to the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS), cancerous lumps are usually found on the sides or in front of the testicle.
Testicular cancer is a rare type of cancer in men and also has a high survival rate if detected early. Conducting regular testicular self-examination can help with the same. Do not shy away from familiarising yourself with your organs, as it can help identify unusual changes when they occur. Any sign of lumps or discomfort should be consulted with a doctor, who can determine whether or not additional testing is required.