April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Testicular cancer can affect anyone who has testicles, including men, transgender (trans) women and people assigned male at birth.
The testicles are the 2 oval-shaped male sex organs that sit inside the scrotum on either side of the penis. The testicles are an important part of the male reproductive system because they produce sperm and the hormone testosterone, which plays a major role in male sexual development.
In the UK, around 2,300 people are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year – that’s more than six each day. Those in their early 30s are the most likely to get it, and it becomes less common as people get older.
What to look for?
You should check regularly for any changes to your testicles. The ideal time to check is just after a warm bath or shower: hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand and check each testicle by rolling it between the thumb and fingers.
The early signs of testicular cancer are easy to spot. Look out for one or more of the following:
- A lump (which might be painless);
- Increased size;
- Pain or heaviness in the ball sack.
Along with these, some men also get hot sweats, tender nipples, breathlessness, a heavy scrotum, or pain in their groin, back or belly. These symptoms are usually a sign of infection, inflammation, fluid build-up (hydrocele) or damage, but you should get them checked to be safe. Many cases of testicular cancer can be cured if treated early so it is important to check regularly and don’t delay seeking GP advice.
A report from Bupa states that a quarter of men delay seeking help for health concerns, with 1 in 10 admitting to deliberately missing or delaying a cancer screening. Screenings can be lifesaving, which is why it’s essential that men address any symptoms that they are concerned about. All the same, mental health is still something men tend to ignore, and like physical conditions, the sooner you get help, the easier the condition may be to treat.
There’s no shame in seeking help – it’s the proactive and sensible thing to do. Not only will it help you get back to being you, but it’ll also benefit your friends, family and everyone around you. Don’t suffer in silence.
- Testicular cancer - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
- Testicular Cancer Awareness Month 2022 (macmillan.org.uk)
- Testicular Cancer Awareness Month — Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation
Please note: ‘Men’ or ‘Male’ in the context of our article may include men, trans women, people who are non-binary who were assigned male at birth and cis gender men; and ‘women’ may include women, trans men, people who are non-binary who were assigned female at birth and cis gender women.