Advice and Facts – Dr Simon Gazeley, a GP at Springfield Surgery in the Canalside Healthcare Centre in Bingley, will be sharing with The Bingley Hub readers exclusive advice on topical health issues and giving his tips for a healthy life.
Cancers seem to be getting a lot of publicity at the moment, and rightly so! October is Breast Awareness Month, and then comes “Movember”, when lots of men grow comedy facial hair to raise money and awareness of prostate cancer. Thanks to such campaigns, real progress is being made in the treatment and survival rates of many forms of cancer.
One form of cancer that is perhaps talked about much less is testicular cancer. Treatments and survival rates have improved dramatically for testicular cancer over the past few decades. Men are often reluctant to go their GP when they notice a problem, but the earlier you notice a problem and the sooner you receive treatment, the better the outlook.
Facts about testicular cancer:
- Can come at any age, but most common between the ages of 15-44
- The numbers of cases have doubled since the 1970s, with 2000 young men affected each year
- Survival rates at 10 years after diagnosis have risen from 68% in the 1970s to over 95%
We’re not really sure what causes testicular cancer. It is more common in men who had undescended testicles at birth. It also runs in families, you are 10 times more likely to get testicular cancer if a brother has had it.
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump. Other symptoms include a dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles or scrotum, which may come and go, or a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum. This may be accompanied by a dull ache in your lower abdomen (stomach area), fatigue, weight loss, or feeling generally unwell.
Lumps in or around the testicles are usually not cancers, in fact only around 4% of men attending with a lump have a cancer. For example, there is a sac behind the testicles called the epididymis, which commonly develops cystic lumps. These are harmless, and usually your GP will be able to tell if this is the case with either a simple examination and/or a scan. However, it is really to check out new lumps, because if testicular cancer is not identified at an early stage, it can spread and reduce your chances of a cure.
Regular self-examination will help you become more aware of the normal feel and size of your testicles so that any abnormalities can be spotted early on. It’s best to do this after a warm shower or bath so that the scrotal skin relaxes. Support the scrotum in the palm of your hand and become familiar with the size and weight of each testicle. Examine each testicle by rolling it between your fingers and thumb. Gently feel for lumps, swellings, or changes in firmness. Remember each testicle has an epididymis at the top which carries sperm to the penis. Don’t panic if you feel this – it’s normal.
If you notice any change, see your GP, he certainly won’t think you’re a pain in the balls!!
If you would like to give feedback or comments to Simon regarding this feature, or would like to suggest ideas for future features, please contact him through Bingley Hub Office using the contact form below: