April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Testicular cancer mostly affects young men between the ages of 15 and 44. According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 10,000 new cases of testicular cancer will occur in 2020. The good news is that testicular cancer is curable in the vast majority of cases.
Testicles, or testes, make male hormones and sperm. They are two egg-shaped organs inside the scrotum, the loose sac of skin behind the penis. Cancer can occur in one or both testicles.
Testicular cancer is more common in men who have abnormal testicle growth, those with an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism), and those with a family history of cancer.
Monthly self-exams are the best way to find tumors early. During a self-exam, you'll want to roll both testicles between your thumb and forefingers to check for lumps. You'll also want to feel the areas behind the testicles.
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump in the testicle. If your symptoms last more than 2 weeks, see a doctor as soon as possible.
To find out whether you have testicular cancer, your doctor will perform a physical exam, obtain a testicular ultrasound, and check blood tests.
The first treatment for suspected testicular cancer is most often removal of the affected testicle (orchiectomy). Later treatments for testicular cancer may include monitoring during checkups (surveillance), additional surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. Your doctor will ask you about your plans to have children. That's because infertility is common after certain treatments. Sperm banking can be done before treatments start if you want to have children.
It can take 2 weeks to 2 months to fully recover from having a testicle removed. Some men may elect to have a testicular prosthesis (artificial testicle) placed during surgery. This can restore a more natural look to the scrotum after surgery.