Men's Health

How to check for testicular cancer

27th Mar, 05:08

Reviewed by: Dr. Matt Vickers

While we Australians are probably the only country in the world that could possibly use that C-word in positive parlance, the other C-word is one which will never be associated with anything other than a big “fuck you” and a whole lot of bad vibes: Cancer.

Many different types of cancer get a lot of attention in the Australian media, with a plethora of great organisations raising money and awareness about some of the nastiest types out there.

Most of us will be affected by some form of cancer within our lifetime, whether directly or indirectly, and, as with most things in life, preparedness is key.

There is, however, a type of cancer that is very specific to men.

Unlike many other forms of cancer that lie insidiously dormant and are harder to detect, there’s some good news.

When it comes to abnormalities in your nut you can have a cheeky check in the privacy of your own home and it might just save your life.

While rare overall, testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in males aged between 15 and 34. It also has a great treatment rate, with 95 per cent of those diagnosed surviving more than five years beyond detection (a standard way of measuring success of treatment).

Before we look at the best way to test your testes, let’s break down the two main types of cancer that affects the balls: seminomas and nonseminomas.

Seminomas are tumours which both grow and spread slowly. As you’ve probably already guessed, nonseminomas are the arseholes of the testicular cancer world in that they are more aggressive, thanks in part to the fact that they are generally made up of many different cancerous cells.

There is also something called “stromal tumours”, which can be benign.

You probably don‘t need us (or even a doctor for that matter) to tell you that anybody with a set of ‘nads (or even just the one) can get testicular cancer, though there are a few factors which can increase your risk.

Those who have underdeveloped/undescended testes, a history of testicular cancer in the family, HIV, or (perhaps a little obviously) have had testicular cancer before, should all be a little more aware of the risk than the rest of us, and check regularly to stay on the safe side.

There are also age and ethnicity factors: about half of diagnoses occur for men in their 20s and early 30s, and caucasian (read: white) males are about five times more likely to develop the disease than blokes of african or asian heritage.

So, how does one go about prodding their plums to check for testicular cancer?

It’s actually very simple.

  1. Run a hot bath (or at least a hot shower). To check your testes, you’ll need your scrotum to be nice and relaxed. A tense sack will make it hard to feel what’s going on with your balls, and the best way to achieve this is by a nice soak in hot water.
  2. Stand up. Your balls are at their most natural position when you’re erect (heh).
  3. Using a firm grip (but obviously not too firm, ouch), roll each testicle between your thumb and forefinger. What you’re hoping to feel is a completely normal nut, but be conscious of any lumps, pain or swelling. Remember too that there’s a tube at the top and at the back of each of your crotch nuggets; these should be a little more sensitive than your actual testes, and it’s important not to confuse them for a lump or tumour.
  4. Remember that having one testicle slightly larger than the other is completely normal, and that if you check regularly you should know your nuts inside out after a few self-tests. This is important as any changes in your testes is a good red flag to head to the doctor for a proper check.

It’s also very important to remember that, while serious (and let’s be real, scary), cancer is often very treatable if it’s caught early, which means that any sign of abnormality should mean a trip to the doctor’s straight away, even if just to be safe.

Doctors also have myriad ways to test for testicular cancer, including an ultrasound (just like the one used to see a baby during a pregnancy), blood tests, which have improved by leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades in terms of their worth as a diagnostic tool, and, in rarer cases, a biopsy of the affected area.

While knowing about your family jewels and checking them regularly is a great way to ensure peace of mind, it’s also important to remember that the best person to talk to if you’re worried is your GP, and no amount of Googling, worrying ,or fondling your sack can replace a proper expert opinion.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with checking yourself out next time you enjoy a relaxing bath, and there’s nothing nuts about wanting to make sure your man-berries are malady-free.