Apr 06, 2015 1:00 AM

Author: Libby Mitchell

When talk turns to testicles, it usually is in a joking way. However, there is nothing funny about testicular cancer. While testicular cancer accounts for just one percent of all cancers in males, it is the most common form of cancer in men ages 15 to 35. For men in that age range, regular self exams could be life saving. “It literally takes one minute, once a month,” says Christopher Dechet, MD, co-director of the Urologic Oncology Multidisciplinary Group at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The best time to do a testicular self-exam is right after getting out of a warm shower or bath. “The warmth relaxes the scrotum and makes it easier to feel for irregularities,” says Dechet.  Examine each testicle with both hands, firmly but gently rolling it between your thumbs and fingers to feel for any irregularities in the skin or structure of the testicle. “You are looking for painless lumps, hardening, enlargement, or shrinking,” says Dechet. “However, don’t be alarmed if one testicle feels larger than the other, that’s normal. Be concerned only if you notice a change in size from exam to exam.” Also, do not be alarmed if you feel a soft rope like structure on the back of your testicles. “That’s called the epididymis,” says Dechet. “It’s the tube that carries and stores sperm. It’s completely normal.”

If you find something out of the ordinary during your self-exam, don’t wait to seek help. “Testicular cancer can be easily treated when caught early. However, waiting to seek care could give it time to spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body; then treatment is more involved,” says Dechet. “If you find something, it’s best to see a doctor right away.” 

Libby Mitchell

Libby Mitchell is the Social Media Coordiantor for University of Utah Health Care. Follow her on Twitter @UUHCLibby.

testicular cancer urology men's health

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