Black men are at the bottom of the list of men afflicted with testicular cancer. But White, Native American, and Hispanic men are more than four times as likely as Black men to be diagnosed with cancer of the testis. In fact, recent data suggest Black men have a lower risk than even Asian American men.
A regular self-exam is a great way to find abnormalities early. But you have to know how to do a self-exam properly.
For men over the age of 14, a monthly self-exam of the testicles is an effective way of becoming familiar with this area of the body and thus enabling the detection of testicular cancer at an early — and very curable — stage. Fathers should also talk to their son’s about this important self-exam because it is often overlooked until it’s too late.
Testicular self exam:
- If possible, stand in front of a mirror. Check for any swelling on the scrotal skin.
- Examine each testicle with both hands. Place the index and middle fingers under the testicle with the thumbs placed on top. Roll the testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers — you shouldn’t feel any pain when doing the exam. Don’t be alarmed if one testicle seems slightly larger than the other, that’s normal.
- Find the epididymis, the soft, tubelike structure behind the testicle that collects and carries sperm. If you are familiar with this structure, you won’t mistake it for a suspicious lump. Cancerous lumps usually are found on the sides of the testicle but can also show up on the front. Lumps on or attached to the epididymis are not cancerous.
If you find a lump on your testicle or any of the other signs of testicular cancer, see a doctor, preferably a urologist, right away.
The abnormality may not be cancer, but if it is testicular cancer, it will spread if it is not stopped by treatment. Even if it is something else like an infection, you are still going to need to see a doctor. Waiting and hoping will not fix anything. Please note that free floating lumps in the scrotum that are not attached in any way to a testicle are not testicular cancer.
When in doubt, get it checked out – if only for peace of mind!
Other signs of testicular cancer are:
- Any enlargement of a testicle
- A significant loss of size in one of the testicles
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or in the groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
For additional information, contact a local chapter of the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute or the Association of Cancer Online Resources.