Around 2,400 people will get testicular cancer every year in the UK. It’s not the most common form of male-cancer, but it’s really one that everyone should be aware of. Because the earlier you catch it, the easier it is to treat – and checking for symptoms is so incredibly quick and easy, too.
What are testicles?
The testicles sit inside a sac of skin called the scrotum, and hang behind your penis. They are oval or round, and it’s their job to produce sperm and testosterone. Behind each one is a soft tube called the epididymis.
What should a testicle feel like?
The ball inside your scrotum should feel smooth, without any lumpiness or any bumps on its walls.
How do I check my testicles?
1. Get warm
It’s a good idea to have a bath or shower first, because the heat means everything is nice and relaxed – and there’s also a mirror so you can have a good look.
2. Get to know yourself
It’s important to get to know what looks normal for you. It’s normal for one testicle to be very slightly bigger than the other, for example, or hang slightly lower. Lift your penis out of the way for a better look.
3. Get in there
Take your finger and thumb, and gently run or roll them over your testicles so you can feel the whole surface of the testicle through the skin.
What should I be looking for?
- Any unusual difference between testicles, including size, shape and texture
- A hard lump on the front or side of the testicle
- A softer swelling on the testicle
- Enlargement or increase in firmness of a testicle
- Pain or heaviness in a testicle or scrotum
- Any other changes from normal
Some people could also experience back pain, or tenderness in their breast tissue (yes men have this, too).
Do any of those symptoms mean cancer?
Not necessarily. But they should always be taken to your GP to be checked out.
You can ask for a male GP if it makes you more comfortable, and just remember they look at people’s bodies all day long – they’re not going to bat an eyelid, even if you feel a bit awkward.
How often should I check my testicles?
Once a month is about right. Regularly enough to get to know your body, so you notice any changes.
What happens next?
Well there are lots of different types of testicular cancer, and then different stages as that cancer grows. All of that will impact the type of treatment you get. This usually involves surgery to remove the testicle, and possibly radiotherapy or chemotherapy to make sure all the cancerous cells are gone.
The really good news is that testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers there is – with 98% of people going on to live for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
How can I find out more?
Testicular Cancer UK
What is prostate cancer?
How to check your breasts