Testicular cancer Self-examination saves lives
Although testicular cancer is not a very common cancer it affects a relatively young male population and awareness about this cancer can save a life.
The average age of diagnosis is 33. If the cancer is diagnosed at a late stage than the prognosis is poor. Thus, it is important that young males learn to self-examine their testes as it may help in the early detection of cancer.
The study in US has shown that while just one-fourth of African American men develop the disease compared with Caucasian men, their survival rate is lower. Researchers believe this is due to late detection.
Thus we need to detect this cancer early so that curative treatment options are possible to be applied.
The Key to Prevention is Regular Self-Exams
Like any cancer testicular cancer occurs when cells in the testes begin to grow out of control. The testes, located in the scrotum, are part of the male reproductive system that produces and stores semen as well as the hormone testosterone.
Regular self-exams can help men to recognize if something has changed. The technique to self -examination is not difficult to learn.
How to Self-Exam the Testicles
In the first exam, the patient should familiarize himself with the contents of the scrotum that includes testes, epididymis and spermatic cord. Each testicle includes a small coiled tube on the upper or middle outer side, as well as blood vessels and tubes that carry sperm. These are normal. It’s recommended to perform the self-exam in the shower or bath, once in a month.
For self-exam, the patient will hold each testicle separately between the thumbs and forefingers of both hands and roll it gently. He should feel for hard lumps or rounded masses, as well as changes in shape or size.
You must maintain a record and make notes. If there is anything worth noting, the patient should add it to a self-exam journal that can be compared before and after the next exam. If there is a change in size and/or shape of one or both testes, he should contact a urologist.
Other symptoms of testicular cancer include pain in one or both testicles, a heavy feeling in the scrotum and dull pain or pressure in the belly, groin or lower back.
What to Do if Something Feels Abnormal
If these symptoms occur, or the testicles have changed, call a urologist for an examination.
Most men diagnosed with testicular cancer undergo a surgical procedure to remove the affected testes (orchidectomy). So the physician can examine the tissue and identify the type of cancer cells. Post-surgery treatments can range from surveillance in early-stage cancer, to chemotherapy for more advanced cases. Radiation therapy and lymph node removal may also be recommended.
If testicular cancer is detected early, it is highly treatable. Awareness is essential to detection and lowering those surprising numbers.
Dr. Rakesh Rai, MS, FRCS, MD, ASTS Fellow