Males of all ages are at risk of developing testicular cancer. Fortunately, the American Cancer Society estimates fewer than 10,000 cases for 2021. Regardless of the relatively low number of cases, testicular cancer is a condition that all men should educate themselves about. The most common age range for this disease is 15 to 44. Therefore, fathers should not only learn to identify the signs of testicular cancer in themselves but should also talk to their sons about how to begin guarding their health early and without fear. The more we know about conditions like testicular cancer, the less mysterious and scary they become.
The testicles are part of the male reproductive system involved in the production and transfer of sperm. Two small glands located in the scrotum sac just behind the penis, the testicles feel like miniature eggs. They are spongy but also have a slight firmness to them. Most often, one is larger than the other. This may not be noticeable until a man gets used to performing monthly self-exams. More on that in a moment. In addition to the testicles, the scrotum also houses the epididymis, a tube-like structure that passes sperm to the vas deferens.
Signs of Testicular Cancer
The most common sign of testicular cancer is a painless lump on one of the testicles. Because the condition begins “quietly,” with no outward signs, doctors recommend regular self-exams. Additional signs may occur as the disease progresses. These include:
- Swelling or a sensation of heaviness in the scrotum, with or without pain. The majority of diagnoses have not involved pain.
- A persistent or frequent ache or pain in the testicles, scrotum, or groin.
- Changes in breast tissue, such as puffy nipples or breast tenderness.
The Self-Exam for Testicular Cancer Detection
As women are advised to perform monthly breast exams, men are advised to perform testicular self-exams every month. The point of the monthly exam is to get to know one’s body. It is important to know what is normal and what is not. Without monthly exams, there is no baseline from which to start. The exam is quick. Most men do it in the shower to make it an easy-to-remember habit. To perform the exam:
- Use the thumb and forefinger to gently hold one testicle at a time. Roll the testicle between the fingers to sense firmness. This should be consistent throughout the testicle, not firm in one area and soft in another.
- Using the thumb and forefinger, find the vas deferens and the epididymis to become familiar with how they feel.
- Feel around the testicles and scrotum for swelling, lumps, and bumps. If any are found, schedule a visit with a urologist.
Testicular cancer sounds scary. We understand. The more awareness men of all ages have, the sooner they can obtain care if necessary. Remember, testicular cancer is curable. Don’t wait to start that monthly self-exam or to call your doctor if you have questions. We’re here to help. Call UT Urology in Chattanooga at (423) 778-5910.
There are several areas of the male reproductive and urinary systems that may need specific care at some point. We usually hear about conditions such as erectile dysfunction or enlarged prostate, but there are other ways in which a man’s health may be affected. Here, we discuss the issue of a hydrocele, what it is, and how it may be treated.
Hydrocele Characteristics and Symptoms
A hydrocele is a buildup of fluid within the sac called the tunica vaginalis. This sac is what holds each teste. There is an inner lining and an outer lining to the tunica vaginalis, separated by a small amount of fluid. The lubrication from the fluid allows the testicles to move within the scrotum. The inner lining of the sac is where the fluid is made, and the outer lining is where fluid gets absorbed. An interruption in the absorption of fluid can lead to accumulation. This interruption may be caused b a tumor, trauma, or infection. Sometimes, there is no clear underlying cause for a hydrocele.
How a Hydrocele is Diagnosed
The most common symptom of a hydrocele is swelling. Mild to moderate swelling may not cause any discomfort. However, men may notice the swelling as tightness or may be troubled by the visible nature of the enlarged scrotum. A urologist performs a thorough examination that includes what is called transillumination of the scrotum. This is a painless exam in which a bright light is shone on the scrotum, showing the clear fluid in the sac. Lab tests and an ultrasound may also be ordered, depending on the potential for infection or other contributing issues.
Treating the Hydrocele
Not all hydroceles need to be treated. If the fluid accumulation is relatively mild and is not causing physical or emotional discomfort, treatment may be to simply watch and wait. If the patient is embarrassed about the swelling in their scrotum or is experiencing discomfort, a minor procedure may be performed to drain excess fluid. This is a simple approach but not one that guarantees permanent results. To significantly reduce the risk of further fluid accumulation, a urologist may recommend an outpatient surgical procedure to repair the hydrocele and reposition the sac in a way that allows fluid to drain more efficiently.
UT Urology offers professional, friendly service in Chattanooga. To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced specialists, call (423) 778-5910.
Testicular cancer may not be an incredibly common form of the disease. However, it is the most common type of cancer to affect men in the 15-year-old to 34-year-old age category. Every year, nearly 10,000 new cases – and 350 deaths – occur from testicular cancer. This is sufficient evidence that we need to continue striving for improved diagnostics and treatment options. Where it all begins, though, is with awareness.
Awareness of Risks
The list of risk factors for testicular cancer is small and includes a family history of the disease, abnormal development of the testicles, and an undescended testicle. Aside from these risk factors, researchers have not yet been able to determine why some men develop abnormal cellular regeneration in a testicle.
Awareness of Symptoms
Not many men make a habit of familiarizing themselves with their testicles in a formal manner. Many cases of testicular cancer have been identified purely by accident. Some are recognized during a physical examination at the doctor’s office. It isn’t very often that symptoms are obvious enough to present themselves randomly, such as a sensation of swelling or heaviness. Men in the high-risk age group may want to set aside a few minutes now and then to perform a self-examination.
The process of observing and feeling the testicles for signs of anomaly is relatively simple. Just spending some time looking at the testicles (with the penis moved out of the way) allows a man to more quickly notice if swelling is present. Lumps are not usually obvious to the naked eye. They may be felt by gently moving the testicle between the thumb and fingers. The observation and gentle palpation of each testicle can accelerate the early detection of testicular cancer, so is valuable to the outcome of care.
Evidence of potential testicular cancer should be formally evaluated by a urologist as soon as possible. Prompt treatment may not be the only key to the success of testicular cancer treatment. Where the primary benefit lies is the method of care needed to achieve an optimal outcome from surgery, chemotherapy, or other modalities. If testicular cancer is not diagnosed and treated in an appropriate time frame, cancer can spread to the lymph nodes, creating urgency for more aggressive treatment.
UT Urology serves patients from Chattanooga and surrounding areas. For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of testicular cancer, call (423) 778-8765.