Discovering a painful testicular lump or having a swollen testicle is one of the major indicators of testicular cancer, according to a new study.
The study, by the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK, was the first to examine symptoms of testicular cancer using data from general practice surgeries. It found that the combined presence of a testicular lump and swelling resulted in a high probability of testicular cancer.
Testicular pain, inflammation and groin pain were also symptoms that may be linked to cancer, the study found.
Urologist, Dr Laurie Blake, from The Urology Hospital in Pretoria, said early diagnosis of testicular cancer often means shorter periods of treatment, fewer complications and may help improve fertility.
Blake said men should self-examine their testicles monthly and if a lump is detected, they should immediately see a urologist.
“There are multiple reasons that may be behind a testicular lump and not all lumps are necessarily cancerous. Your urologist will do a clinical assessment and an ultrasound is one of the mechanisms we use to identify whether a lump is malignant or not.”
He said often, cancerous lumps are not painful which is why patients do not present themselves at the outset. “It is vital, however, that as soon as a lump is detected the patient consult a urologist as early detection saves lives,” he said.
Testicular cancer was uncommon, affecting less than five to 10 men per 100 000, but it is on the rise according to the Cancer Association of SA which says it largely affects men between the ages of 15 and 39.
It is also more common in men who have a familial history of testis cancer or have previously treated testes cancer, said Blake.
It is also more prevalent in men who have had an operation to rectify undescended testes or men who still have undescended testes.
“Testicular cancer has a predictable spread through the lymph nodes and if you detect it early, you can avoid having radiation or chemotherapy. If, however, it is necessary to remove the testicle, a man can function normally with one testis,” said Blake.