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You can check for testicular cancer through a self-exam, although you will have to see a doctor for proper screening and diagnosis. While you perform the self-exam, you might also benefit from knowing the various signs and symptoms that accompany the disease. In addition, you can also take into consideration the risk factors that make a person more likely to develop testicular cancer. It is important to understand while you check for testicular cancer that the presence of symptoms or risk factors does not necessarily mean you have or will have the disease, just as not exhibiting symptoms or risk factors does not mean you will not develop the disease.
The goal of a self-exam is to detect any lumps or swelling in or around the testicles. Before performing the exam, you should know that a normal testicle on an adult is a little smaller than the size of a golf ball. It is firm and smooth in feel and round in appearance. In addition, it is normal if one of your testicles is a little bigger in size than the other.
It might be easier to perform the self-exam while taking a shower, or right after, as the skin on your scrotum will be relaxed by the warm water. First, you should cup your scrotum and see if it feels normal. Next, with your index and middle fingers underneath and your thumb on top, roll a testicle gently to feel for any lumps; you should complete this step one testicle at a time. After this, you should also examine for a swelling along the epididymis, the tube behind the testicle.
When you check for testicular cancer, you look for lumps, but there are other signs and symptoms of the disease, and knowing them might be helpful if your self-exam arouses suspicion. While you might not exhibit any symptoms at all, if you do, they can include discomfort, heaviness or pain in the scrotum, as well as a rapid accumulation of fluid in the scrotum. In addition, you might also experience a dull pain in the abdomen, back or groin, as well as enlarged or tender breasts.
In addition to symptoms, it might also help to be aware of risk factors as you check for testicular cancer. Risk factors include age, ethnicity and race, and medical conditions. Although testicular cancer can affect any male of any age, the majority of cases occur in men aged 20 to 54. It is unknown how ethnicity and race play into testicular cancer, but white, American men are at most risk of developing the disease.
Although not a complete list, some medical conditions that can provide bigger risks of developing testicular cancer include cryptorchidism, Klinefelter syndrome and testicular carcinoma in situ. In addition, if you have had cancer in one testicle, you hold a higher risk of getting cancer in the other. Lastly, a family history of testicular cancer does slightly increase your risk of getting the disease.