When doctors can detect it early, testicular cancer is usually highly treatable. Yet not everyone may know the importance of self-exams for this type of cancer. Cancer and health organizations aim to change that, especially during Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.

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Every April, many people dedicate themselves to raising awareness about testicular cancer, its symptoms, self-exam techniques, and education.

Testicular cancer develops in the testicles (testes). These two small, oval-shaped organs produce sperm and testosterone. They sit inside the scrotum, directly behind the penis.

Cancer in the testicles is uncommon. In fact, it’s the 24th most common type of cancer in the United States, making up only 0.5% of all yearly cancer diagnoses.

With early detection, testicular cancer is highly treatable.

Keep reading to learn more about testicular cancer and how to find it early for effective treatment. When the time comes, grab your purple ribbons (the official color of Testicular Cancer Awareness Month) and share these important facts.

Fast facts about testicular cancer

  • Testicular cancer usually starts in the germ cells of the testicles.
  • Two types of testicular cancers in germ cells are most common: seminomas and nonseminomas. Nonseminomas subdivide into four specific tumor types.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022, 9,910 people in the United States received testicular cancer diagnoses.
  • An estimated 460 people died from testicular cancer in 2022.
  • The 5-year survival rate for testicular is promising at 95%.
  • Testicular cancer is the 24th most common type of cancer in the United States.
  • The average age of diagnosis is 32.
  • People 20 to 34 years old account for nearly 52% of all new cases of testicular cancer each year.
  • About 1 out of every 250 males may develop testicular cancer.
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Testicular cancer can be more common when a person’s testicles don’t develop typically, or they experience an injury to them. The cancer might occur more often in white, Native American, or Native Alaskan people. This may occur due to genetic factors or healthcare inequities.

Testicular cancer can also occur more often in people with:

  • structural changes that impact the way the testicles develop
  • abnormalities in testicular development
  • a family history of testicular cancer, especially if a parent or sibling receives the diagnosis
  • congenital abnormalities with the testicle, penis, or kidneys
  • undescended testicles (cryptorchidism), or a testicle that doesn’t move into the scrotum
  • a previous testicular cancer experience

People can easily discount testicular cancer’s primary symptoms or chalk them up to other possible causes. For example, testicle injury or even an infection could cause some testicular cancer symptoms.

That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor as soon as possible so that they can rule out any possible explanations for what you’re experiencing.

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • one or both testicles feeling larger or different
  • a heavy pain in the scrotum
  • pains or aches in and around the testicle and scrotum or upper thigh
  • a lump or swollen spot on a testicle, even if it’s not causing pain
  • unexplained fluid in the scrotum

There are no official screening tests for testicular cancer. There’s also no suggested routine for when and how often to screen people with testicles for testicular cancer.

Often the person themselves finds their testicular cancer, and that may be in part due to at-home testicular screening. This involves people checking their testicles and scrotum for evidence of change.

There are five steps to a self-exam for testicular cancer.

  1. Examine the scrotum for signs of changes or swelling.
  2. Cup one testicle with both hands.
  3. Gently massage and roll the testicle between your thumb and fingers. Use only slight pressure.
  4. Run your thumb or finger along the spermatic cord and epididymis. These are tube-like structures on the back of each testicle.
  5. Take notice of any changes in size or any new, irregular lumps.

Repeat this self-exam with the other testicle.

You may find it’s easier to conduct a testicular self-exam while in the shower or after a warm bath. The skin is softer and more pliable, which may make detecting changes easier.

Testicular cancer is an uncommon cancer, and doctors can often treat it effectively, even if people receive a diagnosis at a later stage. The 5-year relative survival rate in the United States for all stages of testicular cancer is 95%.

But not everyone may know to check for this type of cancer. Testicular Cancer Awareness Month aims to educate people assigned male a birth, especially those between the ages of 20 and 35, about this type of cancer and the need for self-exams.

If you notice any changes, have an appointment with a doctor right away. They can schedule tests and any exams that will help determine if the changes you’re feeling occur due to cancer or another health condition.