Fresh + Informative Health News

Catching testicular cancer

Score a preventive health home run with self-exams.

Article Author: Juice Staff

Article Date:

catching a baseball

Over the past several decades, the rate of testicular cancer has increased in the United States, with the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimating roughly 9,760 new cases will be diagnosed in 2024. That means one out of every 250 men will get it during his lifetime.

“The average age of diagnosis is the early 30s, but it can affect men of all age groups,” said Barrett McCormick, MD, a urologic oncologist at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center. “You can see peaks in diagnoses in the early 20s or late 30s, but other types can be present in men in their 60s or even in kids and teens.”

Triple-run treatment

Testicular cancer has one of the highest rates of survival of all cancers, but the implications for fertility depend on the type of therapy a person receives. The treatment depends on what stage and type of testicular cancer the person is diagnosed with. The three main options are:

  1. Surgery
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. Radiation

Typically, the first step is to surgically remove the testicle. This is usually a quick outpatient procedure. If this is the only treatment required, fertility and testosterone production shouldn’t be affected, although there are risks.

In some cases, patients will also need radiation or chemotherapy. These additional treatments to lower the chance of recurrence may affect fertility and sexual function, so it's important for patients and their partners to discuss reproductive implications with their physicians.

“When we have patients who are facing this possibility, one of the big components is talking about their goals in terms of fertility and options to achieve them," said Dr. McCormick. “This includes sperm banking, which involves men supplying samples to be saved and frozen for future reproductive purposes."

Starting lineup: testicular self-check checklist

Fortunately, testicular cancer is usually easy to identify during a self-exam.

“That’s when they should take note of anything they might be concerned about,” said Dr. McCormick. It’s best to perform a self-exam after a hot shower because the muscles and skin are relaxed. Warning signs of testicular cancer include:

  • Lump or swelling in the testicle
  • Heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • Pain in the testicle or scrotum

If you detect one of these signs during a self-exam, you should seek the opinion of your primary care physician as soon as possible, who may make a referral to a urologist or cancer specialist. Typically, the next step is to get a painless ultrasound picture for further evaluation.

In addition to self-exams, it’s important for men to be aware of risk factors for testicular cancer, including:

  • Having a history of undescended testicle
  • Family history of cancer
  • Ethnicity/race (White, American Indian and Alaska Native men are more likely to get it than Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander men, according to the ACS.)
  • Carcinoma in situ of the testicle (noninvasive form of the disease)

Though early detection is key, physicians often see a delay in care after a person finds a lump.

“It’s normal for patients to have a certain amount of fear or concern that hinders them from going to the doctor, myself included,” said Dr. McCormick. “But it’s important not to let that stop you from receiving potentially life-saving care.”

He added, “Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that can be done to prevent this type of cancer. It’s really just being vigilant and trying to catch it at the earliest stage possible, and we can be proactive by encouraging men to do those self-checks.”

Men’s health grand slam

Dr. McCormick and other urologists encourage patients to be open about their health problems with their providers.

“We’re a resource for them, and we can get them through any problem they may be having,” he said. “These are issues we deal with all the time, and we emphasize to our patients that they aren’t alone.”

To learn more about men's sexual health and wellness, listen to this podcast interview with Lael Stieglitz, MD, a urologist, at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Talk to your doctor about concerns regarding testicular cancer

If you or a loved one is experiencing the warning signs associated with testicular cancer, contact your primary care physician for an evaluation and referral to a cancer specialist, if needed. To find the right provider for you, call 904.202.4YOU or fill out the appointment request form.

Find a provider near you

Source: American Cancer Society

Get fresh-picked headlines delivered to your inbox.

Thank you, you're subscribed!


Stories by Topic

Related stories