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Attention, men: A testicular self-exam can save your life.

Johns Hopkins Medicine reported last week that men are not yet as comfortable examining their testicles as women are examining their breasts. The irony is, testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers among young men, and yet many remain ignorant of the disease and how they can play an important role in detecting it.

The report, in an interview with testicular cancer expert Philip Pierorazio from the Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins, explains why and how men should make it a habit to perform a regular testicular self-exam, the way women do breast self-examinations (BSE). Like BSE, the checkups can help men catch testicular cancer early.

Survival rates for all stages of testicular cancer are relatively high, but early detection can help men dodge a round of chemotherapy sessions and radiation to the testicles-both of which have unpleasant side effects, such as burning of the skin for radiation. If cancer is spotted early, men will only have to undergo surgery.

To perform a testicular self-exam, guys must first be familiar with their anatomy.


Don't worry if one testicle is bigger than the other or hangs lower-that's normal. The report also says it's easy to mistake the epididymis, the coiled set of tubes that lines the back and top of the testicles, for an unusual mass.

The epididymis is the portion of the reproductive system where sperm matures and 'learns to swim.' It will feel softer and bumpier than the testicle it's attached to.

How to perform a testicular self-exam:

1) Set aside five minutes while you're in the shower. A warm shower, the Johns Hopkins report says, will relax the scrotum and the muscles holding the testicles, making an exam easier.

2) Start with one side. Gently roll the scrotum with your fingers to feel the surface of the testicle. Check for any lumps and bumps or unusual features. Cancerous tumors typically aren't painful.

3.) Just like how women should be familiar with their breasts and how it feels under their fingers, men must note any changes in size over time. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless mass, but some men experience swelling of the testicles and scrotum.

4) Be aware of any dull soreness or heaviness.

5) Switch sides and check the other testicle.

Perform a self-exam once a month. This way you'll have an easier time noticing when something has changed. Most men, the report says, are intimately aware of their genitalia and any changes that occur. If you feel something abnormal, seek a professional opinion right away.

Testicular masses

Men on average wait four to six months to make an appointment, but that's enough time to allow cancer to spread. While no guy may be thrilled to discuss his testicles, there's no reason to be embarrassed. Your doctor has seen plenty before-'and the conversation could save your life.'

Most testicular masses are not cancer. But just the same, it is important to seek professional help right away. Even if the mass turns out to be benign, the following testicular conditions can cause intense discomfort and threaten fertility: Cysts (which can form in the testicle, epididymis or structures around the testicle), infection, injury, varicocele (enlargement of the veins) and hydrocele (collection of fluid around the testis).

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 14, 2018
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