April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, and doctors as well as testicular cancer patients stress the importance of self-examination.
“It’s important to do your exam while taking a shower,” said Dr. Martha Terris, Witherington Distinguished Chair in Urology in the Department of Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. “The warm water helps the scrotum be loose allows you to rub your fingers across the sack feeling for hard nodules.”
Terris said all men should start doing these self-checks as they get into their later teen years. Terris said the majority of men diagnosed with testicular cancer are in their 20s and early 30s.
According to the American Cancer Society, the number of men diagnosed with testicular cancer has been on the rise for several decades in the United States and other countries. However, the cancer society says risk of death is low: about 1 in 5,000 men.
“If there’s one thing I could tell other men, it would be that you need to get checked out,” said Curtis Grant, a testicular cancer patient. “We know our bodies. If something doesn’t feel right, it is your responsibility to get it checked out by your doctor.”
Grant was diagnosed with testicular cancer about five years ago. He said it started with a throbbing pain in the groin area. Grant said he made the decision to see his doctor within 48 hours of the pain showing up.
“I tried taking Aspirin to see if it would help with` the pain and discomfort,” he said. “But when it didn’t help, I knew I needed to seek professional help.”
Later that same week, Grant was in an operating room having surgery.
Terris said men do not need to worry about a lack of testosterone or other side effects from losing a testicle.
“The remaining testicle can pick up production of hormones,” she said. “Losing a testicle will not affect a man’s sex drive and you can still produce sperm to have a child with your partner.”
And for men worried about their self-image, Terris said prosthetics can help a man appear unaffected by surgery.