Testicular cancer, unlike most other cancers, is more prevalent in younger men than older. This is a large reason why many men are not checking themselves for the disease and a quarter of men mistakenly think they’re “too young”. This is leading to delayed diagnosis in younger men, which impacts prognoses and ultimately, survival rates. What should you look out for?
Bupa is appealing to men as part of their nationwide “Check your Tackle” campaign as its revealed that one in four men have never checked themselves for testicular cancer and nearly half admitting that they ‘regularly forget’ to look out for symptoms.
Common misconceptions are also holding men back from checking their testicles. Bupa states that men are still uncomfortable talking about their health, with one in three too embarrassed to talk to friends about issues ‘down there’.
However it’s these misconceptions and embarrassments that are leading to treatment delays with potentially serious consequences.
When diagnosed at the earliest stage, men with testicular cancer have a survival rate of five years or more, however, one in eight men under 35 have admitted that they would choose to delay seeking help for a symptom which turned out to be cancerous.
On average men would delay for three weeks before visiting a doctor with a symptom.
With the condition affecting more than 2,000 men in the UK each and one in three unsure what they’re looking for, Bupa experts are urging men to take testicular cancer by the balls.
Julia Ross, head of Cancer Care at Bupa UK said: “At Bupa we know that early diagnosis and access to treatment can have a positive impact on the outcome of testicular cancer.
“That’s why we’re urging men to check their tackle and become more testicle aware.
“Being vigilant for changes and symptoms such as a lump, swelling, pain or fluid which could save a life.
“For those who don’t feel comfortable discussing these issues with their doctor, we’ve developed Cancer Direct Access, our telephone-based self-referral service, which allows customers to skip the GP and get access to specialist consultants straight away.”
How to be testicle aware
Bupa recommends checking for symptoms at a particular time of day.
The health organisation said: “Once a young man hits puberty, it’s important to check the testicles regularly, ideally every month. This will help to get an idea of the usual look and feel so if there are any changes, you’ll notice them.
“The best time to do this is in the shower or bath, or just afterwards.
“The warmth will relax your scrotum and make it easier to feel anything unusual.”
Bupa also advises:
- Stand in front of a mirror and check if you can see anything unusual like any swelling on the skin
- Feel the size and weight of each testicle. You may notice that one testicle is larger or hangs lower than the other. This is completely normal
- Get to know the feel of your testicles by rolling each one between your fingers and thumb. They should feel smooth, without any lumps or swellings
“Towards the top, at the back of each testicle, you’ll feel a soft, tender tube. This is called the epididymis, and stores sperm, so it’s good to remember where it is so you don’t mistake it for a lump.
“Cancerous lumps don’t usually develop here but on the sides or in front of your testicle. You might also feel a small and firm lump near the top of your testes.
“This might well be what’s called the Hydatid of Morgagni and is completely normal.
“But if you’re concerned about any lump, contact your GP for advice,” said Bupa.