How To Self Test For Testicular Cancer At Home
Awareness conquers cancer. It is important to keep a track of signs of changes in your body parts as it is great for the early detection of cancer. In my experience as an Oncologist, I have observed that men often neglect signs of changes in their testicles and later find it out to be a serious problem.
I often make it a point to educate my patients that testicular cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Although survival rates for all stages of the disease are relatively high, the side effects of its treatment are quite unpleasant and harm the fertility of the patient. That’s where self-exams help detect cancer so it can be removed with surgery easily.
Understanding the Risk: Testicular Cancer
It is important to be proactive and understand the risk factors that can cause testicular cancer! This will help you detect early and get the required treatment!
The risk factors that can increase the chance of developing testicular cancer include:
- An undescended testicle
- Irregular development of testicles
- Personal or family history of testicular cancer.
However, it is often noticed that the majority of men who are diagnosed with this cancer observe no risk factors at all. As a result, proper self-examination becomes critical in detecting testicular cancer at an early stage.
Self-Examination: The Key to Early Detection
Self-examination is that one important step that will ensure your long-term reproductive well-being and negate the chances of cancer! Before you start your self-exam, here are two things to keep in mind:
⦁ It’s normal if one testicle is bigger than the other or hangs lower.
⦁ It’s okay to confuse the epididymis for an unusual bump/tumour. This epididymis is a spiral set of tubes found in the testicles. It is where sperms grow and learn to swim. It may feel smoother and bumpier than the testicle it’s fixed to.
How to perform a self-exam:
⦁ Take out 5 minutes for the self-exam while you are in the shower. A warm shower relaxes the scrotum and the muscles holding the testicles, making the exam quick and smooth.
⦁ Stand in front of a mirror, if possible. Look for any swelling on the scrotal skin.
⦁ Examine each testicle with both hands. Begin by holding your testicle between your thumbs and middle fingers. Then, roll it gently but tightly between your fingers.
⦁ Try detecting any hard lumps or smooth rounded masses in and around your testicles. Also, look out for any changes in the size, shape or consistency of your testicles.
⦁ Be mindful of any dull soreness or heaviness. You must not feel any pain when performing the self-exam. The testicles should be smooth and firm to touch.
⦁ Keep a note of any changes in size over time. The most common change being a painless mass.
⦁ Switch sides and check the other testicle by repeating the same steps.
If you do detect something unusual, do not worry as not all testicular masses are cancers. However, you will still need to consult a doctor and get examined! The recommended treatment plan will depend on the type of testicular cancer and stage.
Treatment for testicular cancers requires chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, which are the three main treatments. However, the most common side effect of treatment is infertility so men are encouraged to consider sperm banking before beginning treatment!
I highly recommend performing a self-exam once a month as it makes it easier to notice any irregularities. Most men are intimately aware of their genitalia and any changes that occur but still, they wait a long time to see a doctor, which could allow cancer to spread. There is no reason to feel embarrassed discussing testicles as it saves your life!