Testicular cancer is one of the few cancers that can be detected by men performing self-examination, says Robert Smith, M.D., director of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society. "Historically we know that men who are diagnosed late have been living with the symptoms and have been unaware of what they meant for some time. Testicular cancer is highly treatable but gets less treatable the longer you wait. Self-examination means finding this cancer at a more easily treatable stage." Most men diagnosed early go on to live normal reproductive lives.
The disease most commonly occurs in men 20 to 35 years old and is four times more prevalent in whites than African-Americans. Men who have a testicle that didn't descend into the scrotum at birth may be at increased risk. Each year, 7,500 cases are diagnosed, with 300 men dying.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that those diagnosed with testicular cancer have an increased risk of developing other cancers and a fivefold greater chance of developing leukemia.
- enlargement of either testicle or a lump
- a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- pain or discomfort in the scrotum area or an enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- A dull ache associated with activity (and even at rest) may occur as the tumor grows, adds Smith. The tumor, however, should not cause pain during intercourse.
Screening. "Testicular cancer has a very simple screening test: self-examination," says Thompson. "Many testicular tumors, in fact, are discovered by men feeling an abnormality in the testes during a bath or shower." Warm water relaxes the scrotum, making it easier to examine. It's recommended that men examine the testes at least once a month by gently rolling each testicle between the thumb (on top) and the middle and index fingers (underneath). One testicle may seem slightly larger than the other, but that's not unusual. Cancerous lumps usually are found on the sides of the testicle but can appear on the front. Changes should be reported to a doctor immediately.
Continued on page 3: Bladder Cancer