Besides the obvious April Fool jokes, there’s something very special about this month. Testicular cancer awareness month is observed every April in the U.S. to make people mindful of testicular cancer, its symptoms, risk factors, early detection tests for testicular cancer, and treatment.
Testicular cancer awareness month aims to educate men and their loved ones about the basic knowledge of the disease and answer important questions like, “How can I tell if I have testicular cancer?” and “What are five warning signs of testicular cancer?
Read on as we answer the questions.
What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the testicles, the male reproductive organs responsible for producing sperm and testosterone.
Though it’s relatively rare, testicular cancer is the most common type to plague among men aged 15 to 35. The good news is that testicular cancer is highly curable, especially when detected and treated early.
The American Cancer Society says that cases of testicular cancer have been on the rise in America, but it remains rare — only 1 out of 250 men will develop testicular cancer in their lifetime.
Also, the organization predicts that in 2023, there will be about 9190 new cases of testicular cancer and 470 deaths related to testicular cancer.
Testicular Cancer Awareness Month 2023
During Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, various organizations and healthcare providers encourage men to perform monthly self-exams, discuss their risk factors with their doctors, and seek medical attention if they notice any unusual symptoms, such as a lump, swelling, or pain in the testicles, lower abdomen, or back.
But do people look out for these irregularities? Well, you should.
The activities of organizations and individual activists during testicular cancer awareness month help spread information about the disease, and the knowledge they disseminate could potentially save lives. You, too, can be part of the awareness campaign.
Testicular Cancer Risk Factors
Testicular cancer risk factors increase your chances of getting testicular cancer, but it does not mean you’ll get testicular cancer.
Some of the common risk factors include the following:
- A family history of the disease: If someone in your family – father or brother – has suffered testicular cancer, it increases your risk of getting it too.
- Age: Testicular cancer affects men of any age, but it’s more likely to occur in men between 20 – 34.
- Body size: Some studies say that tall men are more likely to develop testicular cancer, but this is not yet a proven fact. It’s a link that is still inconclusive.
- HIV infection: Men with HIV, especially the advanced form known as AIDS, have a higher risk of testicular cancer.
- Race and ethnicity: White men are four to five times more likely to get testicular cancer than black or Asian men. Also, men in America or Europe are more likely to get testicular cancer than those in Africa or Asia.
- Undescended testicles: Also known as cryptorchidism, undescended testicles are one of the main risk factors for testicular cancer. Usually, the testicles develop in the abdomen and descend into the scrotum before birth, but in 3% of males, one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum. Men with undescended testicles are many times more likely to get testicular cancer.
It is important to note that many men with testicular cancer have no known risk factors, so you still need to look for signs and symptoms or do a test for testicular cancer even if you don’t have risk factors.
If you or someone you know has concerns about their testicular cancer, consult a healthcare provider for guidance and support. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve outcomes for those affected by this disease.
How Can I Tell if I Have Testicular Cancer?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, you stand a greater chance of successful treatment if the cancer is detected early.
If you have symptoms, it does not mean you have testicular cancer because other factors like testicle injury or inflammation may cause similar symptoms. So, you must see a qualified doctor to advise you on the next action.
On the other hand, some men exhibit no symptoms at all, and doctors discover their testicular cancer while screening or testing for other diseases.
What Are Five Warning Signs of Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer may manifest in the following common signs:
- Lump or swelling in the testicle: It is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger or hang lower than the other, but if you notice an obvious difference in size that wasn’t there before, you need to see a doctor.
- Pain in Testicles: Feeling sudden pain in the testicles without any explained cause can be a sign of testicular cancer.
- Growths or sores on the breast: In rare cases, the breast of men with testicular cancer grows or becomes sore.
- Early puberty: Boys who experience puberty early may have testicular cancer because some tumors produce androgen, which induces early puberty.
- Pain in the scrotum or lower abdomen: Testicular cancer may also cause a feeling of heaviness or aches in the scrotum or lower abdomen.
Symptoms of Advanced Testicular Cancer
If testicular cancer spreads to other parts of the body, some men may experience the following symptoms:
- Belly pain
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes
- Headaches and confusion
- Pain in the lower back
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, or cough if cancer spreads to the lungs
- Significant weight loss
It is important to note that some men with testicular cancer do not experience any symptoms. Therefore, it’s recommended that you perform regular self-exams and see a doctor promptly for a proper diagnosis if you notice any unusual changes in your testicles or suspect that you may have testicular cancer.
How Do They Test for Testicular Cancer?
There are different ways to test for testicular cancer, and your physician will recommend any of them to you, depending on your complaints.
Testicular cancer tests include:
- Scrotal ultrasound: This painless procedure uses waves to produce an image of your testicles. The physician will analyze the image for any signs of an anomaly.
- Blood tests: Testicular cancer often produces certain hormones known as markers. Your doctor can use a blood test to determine if these markers are present. Not everyone with testicular cancer produces markers, and some people without any markers in their blood may have testicular cancer. That’s why it’s important to consult qualified doctors who have the necessary knowledge to decide conclusively if you have testicular cancer or not.
- Histology: Histology involves the microscopic examination of the testicles and can definitively confirm if the cancer is present
- Chest X-ray: Doctors may recommend a chest X-ray to check if cancer has spread to the lungs.
- Bone scan: If the doctor believes cancer has spread to the bone, they will recommend a bone scan to check for testicular cancer, especially if a symptom like bone pain is present or other tests are inconclusive.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Doctors use MRI scans to examine the brain and spinal cord. They may recommend MRI for patients with testicular cancer if they believe cancer may have spread to those areas.
Testicular Self Exam
You can conduct regular testicular self-exams by yourself at home, and the best time for a testicular self-exam is after a warm shower while the scrotum is still relaxed.
Do the following to conduct a testicular self-exam:
- Check each testicle: Cup one testicle at a time in your hands and check for abnormalities. Use your thumb and forefingers to roll each testicle firmly but gently. Feel all around the surface of each testicle; they should both have uniform firmness.
- Find the Epididymis and Vas Deferens: These are soft, tube-like structures that connect above and behind the testicles. Their function is to collect and carry sperm. Feel them properly and familiarize yourself with them.
- Look for lumps or swellings: Lumps or bumps on your scrotum are not normal, even if they are painless. If you find one, see a doctor.
Early detection is key; the more often you perform a self-examination, the more likely you are to detect any tumors early. Perform self-examination at least once a month to look for texture, size, or shape changes.
How You Can Celebrate Testicular Cancer Awareness Month
Now that you know the answer to “When is Testicular cancer awareness month?” here are some ways you can celebrate and help spread awareness.
The awareness begins with you; you can’t educate others unless you educate yourself first. Learn more about the symptoms, risk factors, treatment options for testicular cancer, and how to test for testicular cancer.
Fortunately, all the information you need is at your fingertips. You can visit websites like the American Cancer Society, Testicular Cancer Society, and Testicular Cancer Foundation to find reliable information.
Spread the Word
After educating yourself, you can spread awareness about testicular cancer. Share your knowledge about testicular cancer with your friends, family, and colleagues. Encourage them to perform self-exams and seek medical attention if they notice any symptoms.
Help them answer questions such as “How can I tell if I have testicular cancer?” and “What are five warning signs of testicular cancer?”
Participate in Events
There’s a chance you’re not the only one creating testicular cancer awareness in your school, workplace, or community. Look for local events to raise awareness about testicular cancer, such as charity walks or runs.
Participate in these events or volunteer to support the cause.
You can also donate to organizations supporting testicular cancer research and treatment. Your donation will fund important research to help develop cures for the disease.
Celebrate Testicular Cancer Awareness Month With Craft Medical
Testicular cancer is a rare condition and is not a very popular topic. However, the chances of developing this condition are not zero percent, so it’s important to be mindful of the changes in our testicles.
April, the testicular awareness month, gives us the opportunity to spread the news and educate the people around us. Remember, regular self-examination and check-ups can help detect cancer early for treatment.
At Craft Medical, our mission is to help men live healthier lives and be themselves again while maintaining privacy and confidentiality.