Testicular cancer: How to check, symptoms and treatment options

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month (derneuemann / Unsplash )
April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month (derneuemann / Unsplash )

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Testicular cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer, accounting for just one per cent of all cancers that occur in men.

Around 2,200 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year, according to the NHS.

However, the NHS also reports that the number of cases has roughly doubled in the UK since the mid-1970s, so it's important to know what signs to look for.

Here's everything you need to know about testicular cancer and how to check for symptoms.

Who is at risk?

Around one in 213 males will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in their lifetime.

It tends to affect men between 15 and 49 years old and, for reasons that are unclear, has a higher chance of affecting white men than men from other ethnic groups.

Cancer Research UK says that a person's risk of developing cancer depends on a multitude of factors, including age, genetics and exposure to risk factors such as lifestyle choices.

However, testicular cancer is not clearly linked to any preventable risk factors.

How to check

The best time to check is after a bath or shower, as this is when the scrotal skin will be relaxed.

Hold the scrotum in the palm of your hand and gently roll each testicle between your fingers and thumb to look for any abnormalities.

What are the symptoms?

The early signs of testicular cancer include:

  • A hard lump on the front or side of a testicle

  • Swelling or enlargement of a testicle

  • An increase in firmness of a testicle

  • Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum

  • An unusual difference between one testicle and the other

If you find any of the above signs, see a doctor.

How is testicular cancer treated?

Depending on the type of testicular cancer and the stage it’s at, the treatment options include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Some treatments can lead to infertility, but most people who have one testicle removed remain fertile. Having only one testicle removed will not noticeably affect testosterone levels.

Men undergoing treatment for testicular cancer also have the option of sperm banking.