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Do you regularly — or ever — perform testicular self-exams? If not, you should. Here's why, as well as how.

An estimated 8,430 males in America will be diagnosed with testicular cancer this year. Of this number, it is estimated that around 380 men will die from this disease annually. These deaths happen when testicular cancer spreads from the testicles to other locations in the body and cannot be treated effectively with radiation, chemotherapy or surgery.

What Is Testicular Cancer?                                                      

Testicular cancer develops inside a man's testicles, which are located inside the scrotum or "ball sack". The testicles are responsible for producing male sex hormones and sperm. When compared with other forms of cancer, this type is extremely rare, but testicular cancer is most common in young men between the ages of 15 and 35.

What Are The Symptoms Of Testicular Cancer?

A man may notice the following signs and symptoms that could be indicative of testicular cancer:

  • Back pain and/or discomfort
  • A lump or enlargement in either one and/or both testicles
  • Dull aching in the groin and/or abdomen
  • A heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • Sudden edema in the scrotum
  • Pain and/or discomfort in the testicle(s) or scrotum

Most often testicular cancer is localized to one testicle only.

Testicular Cancer: Causes

The precise cause or causes of testicular cancer are often unclear in most cases. Doctors know that this cancer happens when healthy cells in the testicles become altered in some way. Healthy cells will normally grow and divide in an orderly fashion to keep a man’s body functioning in a healthy manner. However, when abnormalities develop and disrupt cell growth, it can cause out of control growth and result in cancer.

What Are The Risk Factors?

A man can face an increased risk of testicular cancer and the following factors can play a role in the situation:

  • Race: Testicular cancer is much more common in Caucasian males than in African-American males.
  • Age: This cancer can affect teens and young men, however those between the ages of 15-35 are especially at risk.
  • Family history: Those with a family history of testicular cancer can have a higher than average risk.
  • Undescended testicles: Cryptorchidism is a medical condition in which a testicle is undescended and remains in the abdomen. Males who have a testicle that has never dropped into the scrotum are at a higher than average risk of testicular cancer.
  • Abnormal testicle development: Health conditions that result in abnormal testicle development may increase a man’s risks of testicular cancer.

Testicular Cancer Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no way a man can prevent his risk of testicular cancer. Some physicians recommend men do a monthly testicular self-exam in order to identify any abnormalities or changes. However, not all doctors agree, so you should discuss self-exams with your own personal physician, if you have any questions or concerns or if you wish to find out more information.

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