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Testicular tumors are uncommon. Testicular tumors develop in about 3 in 100,000 men each year. But while those numbers are low, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men age 15 to 34. With timely diagnosis, testicular cancer is most likely treatable and most often curable.
Monthly testicular self-exams are the most important way to detect a tumor early. The best time to examine the testicles is right after a hot bath or shower. The scrotal skin is most relaxed at this time and the testicles can be felt more easily. The exam should be done while standing and it only takes a few minutes.
- Look for swelling in the scrotum or any changes in appearance.
- Gently feel the scrotal sac to find a testicle.
- Examine the testicles one at a time. Firmly and gently roll each testicle between the thumb and fingers of both hands to feel the whole surface.
- Note that it is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other. It is also normal to feel a cord-like structure (the epididymis) on the top and back of each testicle.
- If you find a lump, swelling, pain or other change, get it checked out right away. Changes are not always cancer. If it is cancer and you catch it early, you have the best chance for a cure.
CAUSES & CONDITIONS
The only risk factor linked to testicular tumors is a history of undescended testicles (cryptorchidism). This means that a testicle did not drop from the abdomen (where it forms in fetal development) down into the scrotum by birth. Men whose father or brother had testicular cancer are also at greater risk. They should also do a self-exam each month. Younger men above all, those who are 15 to 34 years old are at risk for testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is also more common in white men than in black men.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- a painless lump in the testicle (the most common sign)
- a feeling of weight in the scrotum
- swelling of the testicle.(with or without pain)
- pain or a dull ache in the testicle, scrotum or groin.
Until proven otherwise, any lump or firm part of the testicle should be considered a potential tumor. Unfortunately, it is common for men to put off telling their health care provider about these signs (for up to an average of 5 months). Since the tumor can spread during that time, it is vital to reach out to a urologist right away when you have a symptom, especially if it lasts for more than 2 weeks. The urologist must rule out other issues such as:
- epididymitis (swelling of the epididymis)
- testicular torsion (twisting of the testicles)
- inguinal hernia (when a section of intestine pokes through a weak part of the stomach muscles near the groin)
- hydrocele (atypical fluid in the scrotum, may happen in 10 out of every 100 cases).