Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in young men ages 15 to 35. Early detection is critical because testicular cancer typically grows quickly and begins to spread to other parts of the body just a few months after the first symptoms appear. But treated early, it is almost 100 percent curable.
There are several factors that increase men's risk of developing testicular cancer:
- Age. Most common in men 15 to 35, but can strike any man at any age.
- Undescended testicle(s), even if they were brought to normalposition as a child.
- Family history of testicular cancer.
- Being Caucasian. White men are slightly more likely to develop testicular cancer than Hispanics, twice as likely as Asian-Americans, and five to ten times more likely than African- Americans.
- Diet. Several recent studies have found that eating a lot of cheese and other dairy products increases the risk of developing testicular cancer. Luncheon meats and a high-red-meat/low-fruit diet also increases the risk.
The best way to identify symptoms is to do a simple, three-minute self-exam once a month beginning on your 15th birthday. Here's how to do the exam:
- Get into the shower or a warm bath. Heat causes the scrotum skin to relax, making the exam easier.
- Soap up. Fingers glide over soapy skin, making it easier to concentrate on the texture underneath.
- Using both hands, slowly roll each testicle between the thumb and fingers, applying slight pressure. It's completely normal to find that one testicle may be slightly larger.
- Try to find hard, pea-sized, painless bumps in the testicles ("balls") themselves.
- Ignore the epididymis. The epididymis is a cord-like structure on the top and back of the testicle that stores and transports the sperm.
- See your doctor promptly if you feel or see anything suspicious. Also tell your doctor if you experience any pain or a heavy feeling in either testicle.
By doing these exams regularly, you'll learn what a normal testicle feels like. And that will make it much easier to know if something changes.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun