Testicular Cancer: Signs, Symptoms and Self-Exams

A Young Man's Guide to Prevention & Detection
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 11:29am

Testicular cancer is most prominent in men 15-35 but can strike at any age. When caught early and treated properly, it has a 90 percent cure rate. Men can up their odds of successful recovery through education and early detection. Starting at 15 years old, young men should perform monthly self-exams.

How to Perform a Self-examination

A good place to perform a monthly exam is in the shower when the scrotum and overlying skin are relaxed. Feel each testicle for about 30 seconds with a gentle rolling motion to check for nodules or hardness. Lumps on the testicle can be caused by other conditions, so report all abnormalities to your doctor. 

What are the Signs of Testicular Cancer?

Symptoms include a non-painful, non-tender testicular mass, a heaviness or dull ache in the lower abdomen or a pain in the scrotum.

What Causes Testicular Cancer?

The cause of testicular cancer is unknown. However, there are some risk factors that increase the odds.

  • Failure of the testicles to descend into the scrotum by age three
  • Having a brother, father or grandfather with testicular cancer
  • Previous testicular cancer

How is Testicular Cancer Diagnosed?

A manual examination by your doctor followed by an ultrasound will confirm a mass. A pathologist will then determine which type of testicular cancer is involved.

How is Testicular Cancer Treated?

The affected testicle is often removed through surgery. The remaining testicle can usually supply adequate levels of the male hormone, testosterone, as well as sperm. In some cases, the cancer spreads to both testicles and additional surgery, radiation or chemotherapy is required. Fertility options are available for these patients.

A recurrence of testicular cancer following treatment is possible, but the chances of a cure are still excellent.