Thursday, April 21, 2016
Testicular Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect reminder for anyone with testicles to regularly check themselves, and get to know what’s normal – so you can recognise what’s not.
The reality is, if you’re aged between 15 and 39, you are at the most at-risk stage for developing testicular cancer. Self-checking your testicles and catching any symptoms early is the best way to beat testicular cancer.
What are the risk factors?
The cause of testicular cancer isn’t known, but risk can increase, if:
- You have a family history of testicular cancer, i.e. your father or brother has been diagnosed
- You had undescended testicles at birth
- You’ve previously had testicular cancer
- It is also believed Down Syndrome can increase the risk.
- A lump in either testicle. Usually pea-sized but can be as big as an egg (often painless)
- A swollen testicle
- Shrinking of a testicle
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Aching groin or lower stomach
- Sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Growth or pain in breast tissue
Although testicular cancer can develop without any symptoms, if you experience any of the above, you should get checked out as soon as possible.
We know it can be tempting to ignore the signs and hope the symptoms will go away, but a quick test at the doctor will save you weeks or months of worry – and it might just be a life-saving decision.
Testicular cancer is almost always curable, but having it diagnosed and treated at an early stage will give you the best possible chance.
How to check your testicles
Testicular cancers are usually found by men themselves – either by accident, or by doing self-examinations.
Here are a couple of videos that will give you some hints on how to do a self-examination.
If you do self-examinations regularly (about once a month), you’ll become used to the way your testicles normally feel and will be more likely to notice if there is a change.
What do I do if I find a lump or have symptoms?
Even if you feel uncomfortable about it, make an appointment straight away with your local GP, a Family Planning doctor, or a urologist - it could be a lifesaving.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.