PSA for men: Check your nuts regularly!
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in males between the ages of 15 and 40. Although testicular cancer is very treatable, with cure rates of almost 100% for early stage cancers, and at least 85% for more advanced cases, early detection is important.
There are some important facts about the testicles before we start:
- Most men have one testicle that is larger than the other.
- One testicle often hangs lower than the other.
- Testicular cancer often does not cause pain.
- Not all lumps in the testicles are due to cancer.
It is important to do a testicular self-examination every month, so that you become familiar with the normal size and shape of your testicles, making it easier to tell if something feels different in the future. These are the steps of a testicular self-examination:
- The best time to check is after a warm shower as the heat from the shower helps the scrotal skin to relax.
- It is easier to check while remaining standing.
- Conduct a visual inspection. Look for changes such as lumps and swelling that appear different from the previous check.
- Conduct a physical check. Only examine one testicle at a time. Gently grasp each testicle between the thumb and the other four fingers and roll gently (Fig. 1). Feel for lumps, hardness, pain, or anything else out of the ordinary. You may feel a rope or cord-like structure along the top and back of each testicle – this is normal and is the epididymis (Fig. 2).
- If you notice a change or feel a lump, do not panic. However, you should visit your doctor for a consultation as soon as you can.
Dr Tan Teck Wei
Fig. 1. Testicular self-examination.
Fig. 2. The epididymis (sperm storage tube) is a rope or cord-like structure along the top and back of each testicle. It is often mistaken for an abnormal lump.