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Putting your testes to the test

Testicular cancer is the second most common cancer in young Australian men. Here’s how you can spot it early.

One of the biggest health concerns affecting young Australian men is testicular cancer which, although rare overall, is the second most common cancer in Australian men aged 18-39. Luckily, in most cases the outcome is positive, with a 95% chance of survival, and a five year survival rate close to 98%. But even though these numbers are encouraging, the rate of men diagnosed with testicular cancer has grown by more than 50% over the past 30 years. That’s why you need to know how to spot the signs.

What is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer starts as an abnormal growth or tumour that develops in one or both testicles. There are actually several types of testicular cancer, but the most common is seminoma, which usually occurs in men aged 25 – 50. The other main type is non-seminoma, which is more common in younger men, usually in their 30s.

Are you at risk?

Testicular cancer can affect anyone, and the causes are still unknown. According to Cancer Council Australia you’re considered more at risk if:

  • You had undescended testes at birth;
  • You have a family history of testicular cancer.
  • Previous history of testicular cancer

Despite common myths, there’s no known link between testicular cancer and injury to the testicles, sporting strains, hot baths or wearing tight clothes. So you can soak away those exercise aches and pains in the tub to your heart’s content.

What to look for

There’s no routine screening for testicular cancer, and it may cause no symptoms but the most common symptom is a painless swelling or lump. So it’s important to familiarise yourself with the normal look and feel of your testicles and to touch them semi-regularly to monitor any unusual lumps or heaviness. Less common symptoms include:

  • Changes in the size or shape of the testicle;
  • Feelings of unevenness;
  • Pains or aches in the lower abdomen, the testicles or scrotum;
  • Back pain;
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breast tissue.

Early detection is key

As with many types of cancer, the best way to fight testicular cancer is to find it ASAP. It’s one of the most curable cancers if found early. So don’t be shy about giving yourself a good touch every now and then, and see a doctor if you see or feel any changes.

Want to know more about health concerns for young Aussies? Read about the main issues impacting millennials at medibank.com.au/adultish.

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