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Men's Health Testicular Cancer, STD's, and TSE

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This page contains information on testicular cancer and testicular self-examination. Note: Graphics on this page show male genitals. If this offends you, you should exit now.

Lance Armstrong and Scott Hamilton are two athletes that have been recently diagnosed with Testicular Cancer.

Overview of Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is a fairly rare form of cancer, however, it is the most common cancer in men ages 20-34. Testicular cancer accounts for 3% of all deaths in this age group and is the leading cause of death by cancer for men 15-40. For unknown reasons, testicular cancer rates have nearly doubled in the last 40 years among white males. Incidence rates in African-American, Hispanic and Asian males have also risen, but not as fast as those for white males. For this reason, being a white male is one of the listed risk factors for this form of cancer.

Another important risk factor is having or having had a condition known as cryptochidism, which is the failure of one or both of the testicles to descend into the scrotum before birth. This condition is usually corrected surgically, but if a male is born with an undescended testicle, he is at a much higher risk for testicular cancer than any other known group. Other identified or suspected risks are:


What you should watch and check for:

Testicular cancer is a fast spreading cancer. While it may begin as a small lump on the testicle, it may spread to the lower abdominal regions and the area around the kidney within months. From there the cancer may spread into the lungs, liver and occationally the brain. Once it reaches this stage, it is extremely life threatening. Because this cancer spreads so rapidly, it is important to do a testicular examination every month from the time you reach puberty throughout your life. This exam takes only a few minutes and could result in saving your life.

How to perform a Testicular Self-Examination (or TSE)

To perform a TSE, it is best to do this procedure after a warm shower or bath, when the scrotum is relaxed and the testicles are hanging lower from the body.

Stand in front of a mirror and visually inspect your scrotum for any signs of change, such as swelling or discoloration. It is normal for one testicle to be larger and hang lower than the other.

Next, place the pads of the index and middle finger of BOTH of your hands under one testicle and place the thumbs of BOTH hands on top of the same testicle. You check one testicle at a time using both hands.

Gently squeeze the first testicle with the thumbs and fingers and "roll" it back and forth between your thumbs and fingers. Make sure while doing this you check the entire surface of the testicle.

On the back of each testicle, toward the top, you will feel a comma-shaped structure called the epididymis. This structure is responsible for the storage of sperm. Do not confuse this for a lump, but check the epididymis for lumps as well. At the top of the epididymis, you will feel the vas deferns (or spermatic cord). Gently feel this cord for lumps and swelling as well.

After completely examining the first testicle, go on to the next, giving it the same thorough exam.

If you notice and changes at all in your testicles, epididymis, or cord, or if you feel a lump on any of these structures, consult your doctor immediately. It could be a normal change, or the sign of infection, but you should never risk not going to the doctor because you are afraid of having cancer. Most men with this disease, prolong treatment out of fear or embarassment, and this causes substantial reduction in effective treatment. In most cases ( over 90% ) testicular cancer can be cured if found early.

Your doctor should also examine your testicles at each yearly physical. If cancer is suspected, ultrasound and blood tests will be run to help in the diagnoistic procedure. If cancer is found, the testicle will be removed. If is extremely rare that cancer is found in both testicles, so fertility is usually not an issue, because one testicle can produce more than enough sperm for reproduction.


For questions or comments, please feel free to email me. START TSE TODAY !


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This page created by: Bruce Taylor, M.S.Ed., Instructor of Health Sciences, James Madison University