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Performing regular testicular self-examinations (TSE) can help you become familiar with the normal texture of your testicles, enabling you to detect any changes that may arise. It is recommended that all men engage in routine testicular checks. Testicular cancer is diagnosed in around 200 men in Victoria each year, with the majority of cases occurring between the ages of 20 and 50. While this form of cancer is rare, its early stages are more manageable and have a high success rate in terms of treatment. It is crucial to promptly consult a doctor if you notice any alterations in your testicles. Even if you have had or are undergoing treatment for testicular cancer, it is advisable to continue TSE, as cancer could potentially develop in the other testicle.

Risk Factors for Testicular Cancer: Men who were born with undescended testicles or those experiencing infertility have an elevated risk of developing testicular cancer. If you fall into either of these categories, it is important to remain vigilant and perform regular self-examinations to detect any unusual lumps or swellings.

Conducting Testicular Self-Examinations: Performing a testicular self-examination requires just a minute of your time. Strive to perform TSE roughly every four weeks, selecting a specific day that is easy to remember, such as the first day of each month. Even if you have received treatment for testicular cancer, continue examining your remaining testicle, as there is a one in 25 chance of cancer developing in the other testicle. Seek guidance from your doctor for additional information or instructions regarding TSE and for timely diagnosis of any testicular abnormalities.

Anatomy of the Testicles: The testicle’s anatomy encompasses:

    1. Testicle (or Testis): A small, oval-shaped sex gland responsible for producing sex hormones and sperm.
    2. Epididymis: A series of small tubes connected to the back of the testicle that collect and store sperm. The epididymis links to a larger tube called the vas deferens.
    3. Scrotum: The skin pouch housing the testicles. The testicles are situated outside the body in the scrotum because sperm production requires a temperature around 2°C lower than the body’s temperature.

What to Expect during Testicular Self-Examination: Becoming acquainted with the appearance, feel, and shape of your testicles will aid in detecting any irregularities.

Normal characteristics of testicles include:

    • Each testicle should feel smooth and firm, resembling an egg.
    • Adult testicles vary in size from approximately 15 mL (similar to a bird egg) to 35 mL (similar to a small chicken egg).
    • It’s common for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other.
    • One testicle might hang lower than the other.
    • Handling the testicles and scrotum gently should not cause pain or discomfort.

Performing Testicular Self-Examination: The general steps for TSE are as follows:

    1. Ensure the scrotum is warm and relaxed, possibly after a shower or bath.
    2. Consider conducting TSE in front of a mirror to aid in both visual and tactile assessment.
    3. Begin by examining one testicle, then move on to the other.
    4. Gently roll one testicle between the fingers and thumbs of both hands.
    5. Explore the underside of the scrotum to locate the epididymis situated at the back of the testicle. It should feel like a small cluster of tightly coiled tubes.
    6. Repeat the process for the other testicle.
    7. TSE should not cause pain or discomfort. If either or both testicles become tender or painful, seek medical attention.

Symptoms of Testicular Cancer and TSE: Common signs of testicular cancer encompass a painless testicular lump (though approximately one in 10 lumps may be painful), a sensation of heaviness in the scrotum, and a persistent ache in the affected testicle.

Pay attention to any anomalies, such as:

    • A lump or swelling on or within the testicle.
    • Changes in testicular size or shape.
    • Alterations in the texture or feel of the testicle.

Other Testicular Conditions: It’s important to note that testicular cancer is relatively uncommon. If you discover a lump or any other unusual symptom, refrain from panicking and promptly consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Certain non-cancerous conditions that could affect the testicles include:

    • Cyst: An abnormal but benign accumulation of fluid.
    • Varicocele: Enlarged veins, similar to varicose veins, within the scrotum (10 to 15 percent of men may have this).
    • Haematocele: A blood clot caused by injury or trauma to the testicles or scrotum.
    • Epididymo-orchitis: Infection and inflammation of the epididymis, testicle, or both; typically treated with antibiotics.
    • Testicular torsion: Twisting of the cord that attaches the testicle to the body, leading to a loss of blood supply and extreme pain—requires urgent medical attention.
    • Undescended testicles: One or both testicles remain in the lower abdomen rather than descending into the scrotum. This condition, prevalent among premature and low-weight newborn boys, increases the risk of testicular cancer and infertility in later life.

If you have any further questions or concerns – please, speak to your GP.

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