Let’s Talk… Testicular Screening

Each year, around 800 Australians are diagnosed with testicular cancer. That’s about one in every 100 cancers in males. It’s the most common cancer found in young men aged between 20 and 39.

Here’s the good news: more than 9 out of 10 people with testicular cancer can be cured.

There is no routine screening program for testicular cancer. The key is recognising the symptoms and acting early to get medical advice and treatment.

Let’s talk about the risk factors, the symptoms and the easy self-screening you can do to help pick up any problems early.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer affects your testicles (balls), the two small egg-shaped glands sitting behind your penis. It usually develops in just one testicle, but it can affect both.

Testicular cancer can also spread to other parts of your body.

What are the risk factors?

The risk factors for testicular cancer are not fully understood. We do know it isn’t caused by injuring your testicles – that’s a myth that generates a lot of fear, especially in sporting circles.

You may be at more risk of getting testicular cancer if you have:

  • had cancer in your other testicle
  • undescended testicle/s
  • a family history of testicular cancer (a parent or sibling)
  • HIV or AIDS
  • a defect of your penis known as hypospadias

What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?

The most common symptom seems an obvious one – a (usually) painless lump or swelling in one of your testicles.

Less common symptoms include:

  • feeling heaviness in the scrotum (the sac of skin holding your testicles)
  • change in the size or shape of your testicle
  • change in the consistency or feel of your testicle
  • aches or pains in your testicles, scrotum, stomach or back

When should I start testicular self examination (TSE)?

Today. Don’t wait for symptoms. Even if you have no risk factors and no symptoms, you should regularly check your testicles for any lumps or swellings. Getting to know your testicles and how they feel will help you pick up any early changes.

TSE only takes a minute and is best done every few weeks. To remind you it’s time, think about choosing a particular day of the month, maybe the first or last day of each month, and make a diary or calendar note.

How do I examine my testicles (TSE)?

TSE is best done when your scrotum is warm and relaxed. After a shower or bath is ideal.

Position yourself in front of a mirror and check one testicle and then the other.

Gently roll your testicle using fingers and thumbs of both hands. It should feel like a smooth, firm egg.

Locate the epididymis at the back of your scrotum. It should feel like a small bunch of tightly curled tubes.

It’s normal for one testicle (usually the left) to be slightly bigger or hang lower than the other.

TSE shouldn’t be painful.

When should I see my doctor?

If you notice any lumps or swelling, or any changes in your testicles, see your doctor.

If you’re unsure about examining yourself, your doctor can show you exactly how to do it. Then you’ll have the confidence to keep doing the regular checking yourself.

How is testicular cancer diagnosed and treated?

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and will also examine you.

If your doctor finds something unusual, they may send you for an ultrasound, blood test, CT scan, MRI and/or biopsy.

If cancer is diagnosed, your treatment will depend on the type of cancer and the extent of spread. Usually, the affected testicle is surgically removed. You may need chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or possibly further surgery.

Many men live long, happy and healthy lives after treatment for testicular cancer.

Have questions or concerns about testicular screening? Book online to visit your Caroline Springs doctor consulting from Active Medical or call 03 9363 0954.

Find out more:

Cancer Council

Health Direct