As types of cancers go, Testicular Cancer is not way up there, and is actually comparatively rare, with only about 8,850 cases expected to be diagnosed this year. However, the trend is going in the wrong direction going from 3.6 cases per 100,000 men to nearly double that at 6.3 per 100K over the past 40 years. And despite its relatively low numbers, it is the most common cancer in men 15-34. It is also the one that men most want to avoid talking about. But it is time that it comes out of the shadows.
There is one bright spot to point out. While cases may be on the rise year over year, the number of people dying from testicular cancer continues to drop, with five year survival rates exceeding 95%. But until we are at 100% or until we can prevent it to begin with, there is still work to be done.
You can’t be sure you have testicular cancer from just symptoms, so it’s important to see a doctor about any symptoms that concern you. Whatever you do… DO NOT WAIT! It is much better to ask and find out it is nothing, than to just ignore it and find out the cancer has spread before you get treatment.
- The most common symptom of testicular cancer according to the The American Cancer Society is a painless lump on or in a testicle.
- Sometimes the testicle may become swollen or larger, without a lump. (It’s normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other, and for one to hang lower than the other.)
- Some testicular tumors might cause pain, but most of the time they don’t. Men with testicular cancer may also have a heavy or aching feeling in the lower belly or scrotum.
- Breast growth or soreness: Rarely, testicular cancers can cause men’s breasts to grow or become sore. This is because certain types of testicular cancer can make high levels of hormones that affect the breasts. Some men might also notice a loss of sexual desire.
- Signs of early puberty in boys: Some testicular cancers make male sex hormones. This may not cause any specific symptoms in men, but in boys it can cause signs of puberty, such as a deepening of the voice and the growth of facial and body hair, at an early age.
The long and short of it is that early detection can make all the difference. Know yourself, the Movember Foundation has a “hands-on” guide to self testing [PDF]. If you notice a change in size or shape, a lump that wasn’t there before, or if they become painful to touch, see a doctor. Don’t panic, but do get it checked out.