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Know your stuff.. the importance of self-examination

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer for men aged between 15 and 49 in the UK, with cases having more than doubled in Britain since the mid-1970s. However for the vast majority of men (around 95% to be exact), testicular cancer is curable. This rate can be even higher if the cancer has been caught early. With this in mind, one of London Bridge Hospital’s Consultant Oncologists Dr Simon Chowdhury tells us why it is so important for men to regularly examine their testicles, so they can establish what is normal for them, therefore making it easier to spot changes.

‘Testicular cancer is the most common cancer of young men and yet this is the age group that probably needs the most encouragement to check their testicles regularly,’ says Dr Chowdhury, who specialises in the treatment of testicular and urological (prostate, bladder and kidney) cancers. ‘Testicular Self Examination (TSE) is a simple and effective way for men to recognize the early signs and symptoms of testicular cancer and enables men to know what’s normal for them and when they may have found something that they should go and get checked.’

Mr Chowdhury continues, ‘Men should check their testicles at least once a month after a warm bath or shower, as the heat causes the scrotum to relax making it easier to find anything unusual. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump or swelling in one testicle and although it is important to remember that most testicular lumps are not cancer, if you do find something unusual you should consult your GP.’

But what are Mr Chowdhury’s top tips when carrying out self-examination?

  • Hold both testicles in the palm of your hand to compare for equal heaviness. Remember, it is quite normal for one testicle to be larger or hang down lower than the other
  • Using your thumb and forefinger, roll each testicle to check for any small, hard lumps or slight enlargement or firmness of the testicle
  • If you feel comfortable, perhaps ask your partner to check your testicles as they may be more likely to identify a problem in the future and encourage you to do something about it
  • If you find a lump or something that seems out of the ordinary for you, make an appointment to consult your GP

However, whilst a lump in the testicle is considered the most common symptom of testicular cancer, additional symptoms can include:

  • Any enlargement of a testicle
  • A significant loss of size in one of the testicles
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the pectoral region (the chest)

Dr Chowdhury reiterates that whilst these signs are not exclusive of testicular cancer, he says, ‘If you find anything unusual get it checked by your GP as the possibility of it being testicular cancer needs to be ruled out. Don’t delay, as in rare circumstances some types of testicular cancer can progress quickly.’

Click here to arrange a consultation, or for more information on the services for the diagnosis and treatment of testicular cancer available at London Bridge Hospital

Click here to find out more about Dr Simon Chowdhury

Published: June 13, 2013



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