Testicular Cancer

Testicular Cancer is cancer that develops in the testicles, which are part of a man’s reproductive system

Thankfully Testicular cancer is a relatively rare disease. However, it is the most common cancer found in young men aged between 15 and 34 years. Every year about 170 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer in Ireland. This number has been growing over the past few years so it is important to check your testicles on a regular basis. Testicular cancer is very treatable – more than 95% of men with testicular cancer are cured.

Risks and causes of testicular cancer include

• Being born with un-descended or partly descended testicles.

• Having a family member, father or brother who has developed the disease.

What to look out for

Cancers which are found early are the most easily treated. It makes sense to know how your body normally looks and feels and this includes your testicles. This will make it easier for you to notice any changes. A swelling or lump in one of your testicles which is not usually painful is the most common sign of testicular cancer, however there are other signs to look out for:

  • Small lumps or hardness on the front or side of a testis.
  • Swelling or enlargement of the testis.
  • An increase in firmness of the testicle.
  • A sensation of dragging or heaviness in the scrotum.
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.

It is important to note that most lumps are benign (harmless) but others may be cancerous and should be treated as quickly as possible. It is unusual to develop cancer in both testicles at the same time, so if you are wondering whether a testis is normal or not, you can compare it with the other.

How to check yourself

Often the best place to check yourself is in the bath or shower where the scrotum is relaxed and the testicles can be felt easily.

  • Hold your scrotum gently in both hands.
  • Use your fingers and a thumb to examine your testicles.
  • It is common for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other, so don’t be alarmed if this is the case. Gently feel each testicle, one at a time.
  • You should be able to feel a soft tube at the top and back of both of them. This tube (epididymis) carries the sperm. It may be slightly tender but do not confuse this with an abnormal lump in the testicles.

If you notice any of the signs listed above, or have any concern do seek attention, if necessary, we may refer you for an ultrasound or to a consultant urologist for further investigations. An ultrasound is a painless examination using sound waves. This can show if there is a solid lump, or a fluid filled cyst which is less likely to be a cancer.

Do not be embarrassed or nervous. Remember early detection of the disease is your best chance of a cure. The results of modern treatment for testicular cancer are excellent even in those patients where the cancer has spread outside the testicle to other parts of the body.