Men's Health

Testicular Cancer is a Younger Man's Disease: Know the Signs

AS doctor and patient discussing testicular cancer | Doylestown Health

Testicular cancer is painless, highly treatable, and usually affects young and middle-aged males from 15 to 50, says Dr. Albert Ruenes, a urologist.

“The first sign is often a lump or swelling,” says Dr. Ruenes. Ideally, your doctor will examine your testicles during a routine physical; however, teens and younger men often have no compelling need to visit a doctor. “That’s why testicular cancer awareness is vital, especially if you are one of the guys who is not making regular doctor visits,” he says.

Testicular Cancer by the Numbers

About one in 250 males will develop testicular cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Here is the breakdown:

  • Average age at diagnosis is 33
  • 6% of cases affect children and teens
  • 8% of cases occur in men over 55

A slower-growing, rare cancer can affect older men, but very little treatment is required because this form does not pose much of a health risk, according to Dr. Ruenes.

Risk Factors for Testicular Cancer

Your chances of testicular cancer are slightly higher if you had an undescended testicle or a brother or father who had testicular cancer. White males are at higher risk than other races and, if you had cancer in one testicle, your risk of developing cancer in your remaining testicle is elevated, notes Dr. Ruenes.

Get to Know Your Anatomy

“Don’t be afraid to check your testicles from time to time,” says Ruenes. “Testicular cancer is not hard to fix, but as with any cancer, the key to cure is early detection, so I tell my patients to improve their testicular health awareness through self-examination.” Being familiar with your anatomy can make it easier to recognize a change.

What Happens if You Find a Problem?

Your doctor can help determine whether a lump needs further screening via an ultrasound or blood test. “The evaluation and diagnosis is quick, efficient, and painless. We do it in the office, based on ultrasound, examination, and blood tests. You can still go to work,” explains Dr. Ruenes.

Testicular Self-Exam (TSE)

“A warm shower or bath is a great place to start, because the warmth relaxes the tissue and makes it easier to examine your testicles,” says Dr. Ruenes. “You’re looking for a change in shape or texture, a lump or swelling in the testicle or groin area, enlargement in either testicle, or a feeling of aching or heaviness in the lower abdomen or scrotum.” Another symptom is breast enlargement or tenderness.

Though the American Cancer Society does not offer specific guidelines for timing TSE, they suggest men be aware of testicular cancer and get to know their anatomy. For people with risk factors, the ACS suggests considering monthly self-exams and having a discussion with your doctor.

Testicular Cancer is Highly Treatable

“Even in cases were testicular cancer has spread, chemotherapy regimens offered by our medical oncologists are effective at not just controlling but curing those cancers,” says Ruenes, noting that treatment runs from surgery to radiation and chemotherapy, depending on the cancer type and how advanced it is. “Your testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. Surgery usually involves removal of the affected testicle and surrounding tissue. You can have normal fertility and hormone function and live a perfectly normal life with a single testicle,” he explains, noting that implants are available for men whose body image suffers because of a lack of a testicle.

Learn more

To learn more about detecting testicular cancer early, visit the American Cancer Society website.

About Doylestown Health Urology

Board-certified Doylestown Health Urology specialists offer specialized treatment of a wide range of diseases and disorders of the urinary tract which includes the ureters, urethra, prostate, bladder and kidneys in men and women, as well as the reproductive tract in men. Our highly skilled surgeons treat common disorders as well as provide minimally invasive and advanced surgical options for complex conditions such as cancer.

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