Testicular Cancer

(The Government of South Africa)

What Is Cancer of the Testes?

It is a rare kind of cancer in men. It can occur at any age but is more common in young men, 20 to 40 years old. Often only one testis is affected. The cause of testicular cancer is unknown. It affects men at the time they are most concerned about sexual fertility and starting a family.

The rate of men being diagnosed with testicular cancer has grown by more than 50% over the past 20 years.



Which Groups Are at Risk?
  • Males with a history of undescended testicles (corrected or uncorrected). The risk increases up to 11-fold. All infant boys should be checked at birth for undescended testicles.
  • Men with a family history of testicular cancer.
  • Men with an infertility problem.

Early Detection

The individual himself detects most abnormalities in the testis. The best way to find abnormalities is through testicular self-examination.

Testicular Self-Examination (TSE)

TSE is best performed after washing with warm water, a warm bath or shower. Heat relaxes the scrotum, making it easier to detect any abnormalities.

If you are 18 years and older, follow these steps every month:

  • Check for any swelling on the scrotum (a mirror may be of assistance)
  • Examine each testicle with both hands. Place the index finger and middle finders under the testicle with the thumbs placed on top. Roll the testicle gently between the thumb and fingers. Don't be alarmed if one testicle seems slightly larger than the other - this is normal. Cancerous lumps usually are found on the sides of the testicle, but can also be present in the middle of front of the testis.
  • Find the soft tube-like structure behind the testicles. This is called the epididymis, which collects and carries sperm. Familiarise yourself with this structure. Do not mistake it for a suspicious lump.

Look for the following:

  • a small (pea-sized), painless lump in a testicle (note: not all lumps are cancerous)
  • an enlarged testicle
  • a feeling of heaviness in the testicle or groin
  • a change in the way the testicle feels
  • enlarged breasts and nipples
  • fluid that suddenly accumulates in the scrotum
  • pain in the testicle.

Actions

If you have sever testicular pain - get emergency care.

If any lumps, enlargement, swelling or change in texture can be felt in the scrotum - see a doctor.

If there is a sense of heaviness or pain - see a doctor.

If there is an enlargement of the breasts and nipples and/or a sudden feeling of puffiness in the scrotum - see a doctor.

If no abnormalities are found - continue with TSE until 40/45 years of age.

Remember

Testicle cancer is highly curable, especially when detected and treated early.

Removal of one testicle does not impair fertility or sexual function.

The content on this page was last updated on 2 July 2014