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Cancer Prevention & Control

What Every Guy Should Know About Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 34. Approximately 7,000 new cases of this disease are diagnosed each year in the United States. Testicular cancer is about five times as common among White-American men than it is among African-American men. Over the past 40 years, the risk for developing testicular cancer has nearly doubled among white-American men but has remained the same for African-American men.

Cause and Prevention
Since the actual cause of testicular cancer is unknown, it is currently not possible to prevent most cases of this disease. However, men can take steps to protect themselves. By learning to recognize the risk factors and the symptoms associated with this disease and by performing monthly testicular exams, many cases of testicular cancer can be detected and treated before spreading to other areas of the body.

male symbolRisk Factors
A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease. The following is a list of risk factors for testicular cancer. Remember, many men develop this disease without having any of these risk factors. Likewise, men who have one or more of the risk factors may never develop this disease.

Testicular Cancer is most common:

  • In men ages 15-34
  • In white males
  • In men from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Scandinavia
  • In men with a history of testicular cancer
  • In men with a history of undescended testicle

Symptoms
When testicular cancer is in its earliest stages there may be no symptoms present. When symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • A lump on the testicle that usually is not painful but may cause slight discomfort
  • Enlargement of a testicle
  • Feeling of heaviness or aching in the lower stomach, back or groin
  • Enlargement/tenderness of the breasts
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain and/or cough

Early Detection
The earlier testicular cancer is found, the better the chances that it can be treated. It is recommended that men perform monthly testicular self-exams from puberty on through at least age 50, so that any abnormality can be promptly brought to a doctor's attention for early diagnosis and treatment.

Testicular Self-Exam
Self examinations should be performed during or after a warm bath or shower when the skin of the scrotum is loose.  Do it the same day every month so that it becomes a habit.

Gently roll each testicle between the thumb and fingers in an effort to find any hard, nonsensitive lumps.
After showering, stand in front of a mirror and look for any swelling in the area of the groin or scrotum.
If any lumps are found consult your doctor immediately.

Diagnosis
If any symptoms or other factors suggest that testicular cancer may be present, one or more of the following medical procedures will be performed to diagnose and stage the cancer. (Staging indicates whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.)

  • Medical History and Physical Exam
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood Tests
  • Biopsy
  • CT Scan, Chest X-Ray, and Bone Scan

Treatment
The choice of treatment depends on several factors: the type and stage of the cancer, the outlook for recovery and survival, and a person's overall physical health. The three main treatments include:

  • Surgery to remove testicle
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Survival
If diagnosed and treated early, the majority of testicular cancer cases can be treated and cured. However, if left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and eventually cause death. Therefore, it is recommended that all males perform monthly testicular self-exams from puberty on through at least age 50.

Additional Resources:

For more information, please contact your local S.C. DHEC Public Health Department