Medical experts at Dubai London Clinic break down what you should know about testicular cancer, from symptoms to risks, and more.
25 December 2019| Last updated on 26 December 2019
Testicular cancer - how much do you really know about it?
Putting it right, a black hole somehow exists concerning our health awareness and interest. We turn up at our gym with resolute commitment, we enjoy planning for the weekend holiday with enviable enthusiasm, and we meticulously check the information labels on food products for any unwanted extra calories.
Yet there is still this "here-be-dragons" grey zone that so many men would prefer never to think about; their health and prospects of safeguarding it. Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer among men, but there isn't much being discussed about it.
Should women worry about testicular cancer as much as men do? Absolutely - for women with a brother, husband, father, and friend, awareness and early detection saves lives.
Dr. Zahid Saeed, General Practitioner at Dubai London Clinic, breaks down what you should know about testicular cancer and the some of the most common questions about it.
What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is a fairly rare type of cancer that affects men across the globe. However, and contrary to what men might expect, testicular cancer is actually the most common form of cancer in men aged 15 - 49 globally.
With incidence doubling over the last 40 years, testicular cancer is believed to be about as common in young men as breast cancer is in young women, yet rarely do people talk about this disease, and any sort of public awareness seems always to be lacking.
Cancer can strike anyone, and testicular cancer and its symptoms because knowledge is power.
With a cure rate of 90% or more, testicular cancer is considered a highly curable cancer, but it should never be taken lightly. Testicular cancer tends to be a fast-growing and aggressive form of cancer and must be swiftly and aggressively managed to increase the prospects of a cure.
Who are at risk of testicular cancer?
Although there are no recognised causes, few factors are known to increase a man’s risk of testicular cancer. Unfortunately, none of these risk factors are preventable. Men with a previous history of testicular cancer, those with a family history of the disease, and men with undescended testicles or genetic disorders are more at risk of developing the disease.
What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?
In many cases, testicular cancer presents with no symptoms apart from the accidental discovery of a painless, growing swelling or lump on either testicle, which is located inside the scrotum. If detected early, the lump maybe the size of a pea or a marble. In more advanced stages, it can grow much larger.
Nevertheless, some symptoms of testicular cancer that may occur include:
- Discomfort or feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Change in size or an irregularity in the testicles
- Groin lumps (enlarged lymph nodes)
- Constant fatigue
- Weight loss
- A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- Breast enlargement or soreness
What can men do about testicular cancer?
Men are always encouraged to do a testicular self-examination every month. The self-examination may help them detect any abnormality early. The best time to do this is after a warm shower, while standing, when the scrotum is most relaxed. It only takes you a few minutes to do the following:
1. Check each testicle.
Have a feel of your testicles and get to know how they usually present. This will allow you to better identify when something feels different or out-of-place. Gently, roll each testicle between the thumb and forefingers. Feel the entire surface. Testicular firmness should be the same all around. Bear in mind that it is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger or hang slightly lower than the other.
2. Look for lumps, swellings or suspicious changes.
Lumps are not normal, even if they are painless. The presence of pain is not a normal finding.
If you notice a lump, pain, or any doubtful change in size or shape of any testicle, you should report this to your trusted medical professional. Do not let fear overwhelm you, as there are other conditions such as an injury to your testicle, an infection, or inflammation that are not cancerous but can cause resembling symptoms. But if it is testicular cancer, your best course of action is to seek expert management as early as possible. When found early, testicular cancer can be cured with the likelihood of a full recovery.
Indeed, there is quite a taboo around the disease as it directly involves one’s manhood. But why leave your life up to a coin toss? There is nothing to lose with a regular "feel down below". Actually, you have everything to gain, and it may save your life.
Talking with a medical professional is important to make informed decisions about your health care. Patient-centered healthcare hospital Dubai London Clinic is a good starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment.
Dr. Zahid Saeed, MD, MRCGP, MCFP (Canada)
Dubai London Clinic