Testicular Cancer Awareness Month: What You Should Know

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If you are a testicular cancer survivor, you probably already know that April is testicular cancer awareness month. And if you’re not, it is always a good time to start screening. 

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancer in males, but testicle cancer is also predominant. It stands between lung cancer and pancreatic cancer in terms of prevalence.

This is the reason awareness is so important. But what is testicular cancer awareness month about? Is it only meant for cancer survivors? And how can you get involved? Keep reading to find out.

What is testicular cancer awareness month?

April is testicular cancer awareness month, as officially recognized by the Testicular Cancer Society. Other health authorities also encourage patients between 20 and 35 years to get tested for testicle cancer during this month.

But more than that, testicular cancer awareness month encourages education about signs and symptoms, risk factors, and preventative measures. The cancer awareness ribbon is similar to breast cancer, but this time colored in violet and sometimes royal blue.

The purpose of testicular cancer awareness month

Testicular cancer awareness month is a time to learn about testicle cancer and encourage early detection of this disease. Different campaigns are held during this time to facilitate access to various screening exams. Others are meant to stimulate cancer research in this and other organs.

According to the American Cancer Society, one of every 250 men will develop testicular cancer. It is not a common type of cancer, but unlike others, it is more common in young men. This group of patients typically does not go through regular screenings. Thus, the main aim of testicular cancer awareness month is to provide education.

Patients aged 20 to 35 years are at a higher risk and should be the focus of the campaigns.

Practical ways to get involved in the testicular cancer awareness month

If you’re a testicular cancer survivor, an excellent way to get involved is by giving talks about your experience. You can arrange this with your nearest healthcare center. 

Most of them will be interested in your experience. It is an educational tool for young men in the population.

If your work is somehow related to hospitals and healthcare, you will have many opportunities to participate. Many talks are given during this time, and sometimes there are many patients to evaluate and much work to do.

Participate if you are a patient and attend the talks. Do not hesitate to screen for testicular cancer. Even if you are older or younger than the age span mentioned above, it is always helpful to know how to perform a testicular self exam. And if you find concerning signs and symptoms, report them to your healthcare provider.

Signs of testicular cancer all men should know

Early detection of testicle cancer starts by identifying the signs and symptoms. As noted above, this type of cancer is more common in young patients. As such, they should increase awareness and perform regular self-exams.

The most important signs of testicular cancer include:

A lump or swelling in the testicle

This is usually located in only one testicle. This lump is usually the size of a marble or pea, and it is generally painless. The overall feel of the lump is different. 

Remember that benign cysts can also cause lumps. Some vascular formations may also take the shape and feel of a lump. Such nodes are usually found in a self-exam, and most are not malignant. 

But you need to be sure, and it is recommended to look for a medical opinion. Your doctor will likely use an ultrasound scan to evaluate this lump and determine what it is made of.

Changes in firmness or size

In some cases, there is not a palpable lump. Patients feel that one testicle is very firm and the other is not. Or maybe they feel that one testicle is growing larger. 

This is a sign of an internal lump. It is not superficial and changes the size or firmness of the testicle instead of its shape. 

It can be normal to have a larger testicle, but if you’re in doubt, it is better to talk to your doctor. Once again, an ultrasound scan will give your doctor a clear view of the testicular tissue inside.

Pain, tenderness, or discomfort

In most cases, testicle lumps are not painful. But some patients may develop pain, tenderness, or discomfort as the main symptom. It is located in your testicles or scrotum. 

Even if you don’t have a lump, a doctor should always evaluate this symptom. Testicular cancer pain usually becomes worse over time. 

If you have a sudden surge of pain, other causes should be ruled out first, and they should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible (1).

A sensation of heaviness in the scrotum

Instead of tenderness, you may feel a sense of weight or heaviness. In such cases, the first diagnosis to rule out is varicocele. Still, this can be a sign of testicular cancer in some patients.

Fluid buildup in the scrotum

This is usually triggered by circulatory problems in the testicle or scrotum. In cancer, it happens because the lymph vessels and veins cannot drain the excess liquid (2).

Early puberty

When Leydig cells turn into cancer, they could increase the level of testosterone in a very young boy. This surge in testosterone leads to early puberty. 

Naturally, puberty starts at a different age for each one of us. But consider this sign in a very young boy developing secondary sexual traits too early (3).

Reporting these symptoms is fundamental to starting early treatment. In some cases, it can be another condition and not a testicular tumor. But you will be safer by ruling it out.

Risk factors for testicular cancer

The National Cancer Institute lists the following as the main risk factors for testicular cancer (4):

An undescended testicle

This is a condition some children are born with. Instead of having both testicles in the scrotum, they lack one. Sometimes both. 

The undescended testicle of this patient endures higher temperatures and different metabolic processes. In turn, the affected testicle has an increased risk of developing cancer.

Abnormal testicular development

When the testicles do not form properly or have an abnormality, they are prone to developing cancer. In other words, any alteration in the structure and function of the testicle may lead to testicular cancer. It is a significant risk factor to consider in the case of congenital disease.

Having a family history of testicular cancer

If one or more family members went through testicular cancer, your risk would be higher. The more repetitive this trait is in your family, the more likely it is to develop cancer in the future. The risk is even higher if the affected family members are brothers or your father.

As noted, the risk factors listed above are mainly found in young men. An undescended testicle happens as a newborn and increases the risk throughout our lifetime. When cancer strikes in these patients, it is usually when they are 20 to 35 years old.

Something similar happens with abnormal testicular development. As for having cancer patients in your family, it suggests a genetic and heritable pattern of disease that usually strikes young patients.

Taking into consideration the risk factors will help patients consider their treatment options.

Can you reduce your risk of testicular cancer?

Awareness is the first step towards prevention, and there are many steps to take if you’re at a higher risk. 

First of all, young males with a higher risk are encouraged to screen for cancer every year. Depending on their risk factors, they could sometimes get preventative treatment right away.

For instance, those with an undescended testicle are recommended to remove the missing gonad surgically. This procedure is usually done during childhood, and you should ask your doctor if it is suitable in your case.

Even if you don’t have an immediate solution, there’s still something you can do. We are talking about a testicular self exam you can perform every time you shower. 

The recommendation is to do a monthly self exam where you inspect both testicles for masses, lumps, consistency changes, size, and tenderness. In this regard, the recommendation is similar to the popular self-exam promoted in breast cancer campaigns.

Testicular cancer treatment is successful in most cases. However, there is no time to lose if you have a suspicion. 

If you’re reading this article in April and found a risk factor or symptom above in your body, this is the best moment to seek medical help. There are usually discounts and screening campaigns held in different parts of the world.

But don’t wait for the next testicular cancer awareness month to rule out this disease. An early diagnosis and starting testicular cancer treatment soon could make a difference.

Conclusion

In April, we hold Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. During this time, doctors, nurses, and patients meet to encourage preventative strategies against testicle cancer. 

Awareness of this disease is essential in young men as they are more commonly affected by the disease. In most cases, the diagnosis is made in males aged 20 to 35 years. Still, older and younger men are also encouraged to have a self-examination routine.

Raising awareness is a valuable asset for testicular cancer treatment. Early treatment is associated with better results. Thus, be aware of the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer. 

For example, a lump in your testicle, an accumulation of fluid in the scrotum, and testicular pain. It is also essential to consider the risk factors (an undescended testicle, development abnormalities, and family history). 

Finally, a monthly self exam is recommended in patients of all ages. And if you’re concerned about something, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it.

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