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Taking Care Of my Body (Testicular Self-Examination)

Hi! Boys,

Hope you have read my first article on ‘ The Male Reproductive System’ and I am sure you are quite familiar with your body. The Male Reproductive System, can you remember!!! it consists of the following organs:

2 Testes (testicles)Epididymides Within the scrotum
2 Spermatic cords
2 Seminal vesicles
2 Ejaculating Ducts
2 Prostate Glands
1 Penis

Testicles are male reproductive organs. They produce and store sperms. They also produce testosterone, a hormone that causes male traits such as facial hair and lower voice pitch. Testicles are smooth, oval-shaped, and somewhat firm to the touch. They are below the penis in a sack of skin called the scrotum. The penis and testicles in boys start to grow bigger between the ages of 11 and 15, sometimes earlier or later. The size of penis varies between individuals and this is normal.

The testicles normally descend into the scrotum before birth (i.e. before you were born). Your parents should have taken you (when you were an infant), to be examined by a doctor to ensure that the testicles have properly descended. If they have not, this can be easily corrected with surgery, even if you discover it now!!!.

Hi! feel free to review the diagrams provided in previous article. In the previous article, all boys are advised to examine and feel the two testes in the scrotum and learn to do testicular self-examination to exclude tumours (abnormal growth).

Let us now understand more deeply why early detection of Testicular Cancer is so important and how we can do Testicular Self-Examination (TSE).

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is one of the causes of death among men aged 15-35 years. Testicular Self- Examination (TSE) is the best technique for early detection of testicular cancer. You should seek advice and early treatment if you feel lumps in your testes. Testicular cancer can be treated if it is detected early. American Cancer Society advices that testicular self- examination be carried out every month.

Who is at risk?

Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in men aged 20-35 years. Yet, because it accounts for only about 1 percent of all cancers in men, many people have never heard of this type of cancer. Have you read about testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is of special concern to young men. It can occur any time after age 15. It is less common in middle aged and older men. White men are four times more likely to develop testicular cancer than black men.

Two groups of men have a greater risk of developing testicular cancer:

  • Those whose testicles have not descended into the scrotum and
  • Those whose testicles descended after age 6.
Testicular cancer is 3 to 17 times more likely to develop in these two groups of men. Hi! Boys, please examine and feel for the two testicles, starting from today, if you have not done before!!!!! If any abnormalities is discovered, do not worry but you should discuss with your parents, who would assist you to seek medical advice.

Is testicular cancer curable?

Fifteen years ago, testicular cancer was often fatal because it spread quickly to vital organs such as the lungs. Today, due to the advances in treatment, testicular cancer is one of the cancers that is highly curable, especially if found early and treated promptly.

What are the signs?

The most common signs of testicular cancers are:
  • a small, painless lump in a testicle or
  • a slightly enlarged testicle.
It is important for you to become familiar with the size and feeling of your normal testicles, so that you can detect changes if they occur.

Other possible signs include:
  • a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • a dull ache in the lower stomach or groin
  • a sudden accumulation of blood or fluid in the scrotum.
These signs can also be caused by infections or other conditions that are not cancerous. A doctor can tell you if you have cancer and what the proper treatment should be.

Self- Examination of the Testes

Self- Examination of the testes is important for early detection of testicular cancer, which can be felt as a small lump. The self- examination technique is simple, and should be performed once a month as given below. You, boys should do TSE once a month – after a warm bath or shower. The heat causes the scrotal skin to relax, making it easier to find anything unusual. TSE is simple and only takes a few minutes:

How to do a TSE?

When: The best time is right after a warm shower when the scrotal skin is relaxed and its contents can be felt most easily.
How: Examine each testicle gently with the fingers of both hands by rolling the testicle between the thumb and forefingers (see illustration).
What to look for: Look for a small lump about the size of a pea on the front or the side of the testicle. A natural rope-like structure, the epididymis, is situated along the back of the testicle. Learn what it feels like so that you do not confuse it with an abnormal mass.
What to do: Not all lumps are cancerous, but if you do find one, tell your doctor at once. When diagnosed early, testicular cancer is completely curable.

Step by Step TSE for you
  1. Stand in front of a mirror
  2. Check for any swelling on the scrotal skin
  3. Examine each testicle gently with both hands. The index and middle fingers should be placed underneath the testicle while the thumbs are placed on the top.
  4. Roll the testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers. One testicle may be larger than the other. This is normal.
  5. The epididymis is a cord-like structure on the top and back of the testicle that stores and transports the sperm. Do not confuse the epididymis with an abnormal lump.
  6. Feel for any abnormal lumps-about the size of a pea - on the front or the side of the testicle. These lumps are usually painless.

If you find a lump

If you do find a lump, you should contact your doctor right away. The lump may due to an infection, and the doctor can decide the proper treatment. If the lump is not an infection, it is likely to be cancerous. Remember that testicular cancer is highly curable, especially when detected and treated early. Testicular cancer almost always occurs in only one testicle, and the other testicle is all that is needed for full sexual function.

Annual doctor visits

Routine testicular self-examinations are important, but they cannot substitute for a doctor’s examination. Your doctor should examine your testicle when you have a physical examination. You also can ask your doctor to check the way you do TSE to make sure that you are doing TSE correctly.

How to do a Testicular Self-Examination

1. Internet/Testicular Cancer Research Centre (TCRC)

P. Sarada Devi, Family Planning & Reproductive Health Officer

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