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Tips to check for testicular cancer

Posted 6/17/2011   Updated 6/17/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Maj. Paul S. Ward and Maj. Gwen Kaegy
559th Medical Group


6/17/2011 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in men between the ages of 20 to 34 years. It is almost always curable if treated early. This is why monthly testicular self-examinations are so very important.

It is easy for a man to overlook or even ignore the early subtle signs of testicular problems. It does not take much effort to search for small lumps and it only has to be done once a month.

Initially, check for any swelling on the scrotal skin by standing in front of a mirror. Use your fingers to examine each testicle by placing your index finger and middle finger on the underside of your testicle and your thumb on the top. Gently roll your testicles between your thumb and fingers. Feel for an abnormal lump about the size of a pea. Repeat this procedure on the other testicle.

The best time to examine your testicles is after a hot shower or bath when the skin is the most relaxed. If an unusual lump is found, it will likely be a firm area on the front or side of the testicle.

Other symptoms include a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, a change in the way the testicle feels, a dull ache in the lower stomach or groin, or a sudden accumulation of fluid in the scrotum. These symptoms can indicate an infection, cancer, or other condition.

Any abnormal finding requires a visit to your health care provider.

Since the testicles hang in a sack outside of the body, they are not protected by bones and muscles like the rest of the reproductive system. It is common for males to experience testicular trauma which almost always occurs during sports. Since testicles are made of a spongy material, they are able to absorb the shock of impact without permanent damage.
However, a common problem is testicular torsion. Within the scrotum, testicles are secured at either end. At times, a testicle can become twisted, cutting off blood supply. This can happen at any time. It can be caused by trauma or strenuous activity or it may develop while a man sleeps. In very rare cases, testicular rupture can occur when the testicle receives a direct hit or is crushed against the pelvic bone causing blood to leak into the scrotum.

Any new or unusual finding needs to be promptly reported to your health care provider. In the event that testicular torsion or rupture occurs, an immediate trip to the nearest emergency room is recommended. Pain is usually present and often severe.

Monthly evaluations can save your life. Left untreated, testicular cancer can often turn deadly.

For additional information, check the NIH website on testicular health or at www.nyu.edu/shc/medservices/testicular.self-exam.html





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