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Testicles are where sperm and testosterone are made in the body. It's pretty much what makes a man a man as testosterone gives us hair on our chests as well as causing our balls to drop and penis to grow during puberty.
Good question. But we're all like that. It's 100% normal. It helps to stop them bashing into each other giving that 'kicked in the balls' feeling.
A relatively rare cancer that usually affects one testicle.
The key symptoms to look out for are:
It's important to remember that testicular cancer may not cause any discomfort or pain, especially in the early stages. The most common symptom is a small painless lump.
Any of these symptoms can also have benign (i.e. non-cancerous) causes, but they should always be checked by a doctor.
As some of these symptoms aren't always obvious, it's important to check your testicles.
It's pretty easy. It's best to examine your testicles after a warm bath or shower.
Examine yourself every couple of months or when you feel like it. Testicular cancer is very uncommon so don't get obsessed with it. But if you do find anything unusual, don't wait for it to disappear or start throbbing - see your doctor.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer affecting men aged 20—35 but the lifetime risk of developing the disease is still only 1 in 400. That compares with 1 in 12 for lung cancer and for prostate cancer. However, the incidence of testicular cancer is increasing — in fact, it's doubled in the past 20 years.
The risks are greater (1 in 44) for men who were born with undescended testicles. Men with a brother or father who had a testicular tumour have a 6—10 times higher risk of developing this cancer.
The causes aren't yet fully understood. However, the fact that men who develop testicular cancer are more likely to have had undescended testicles, and to be affected by fertility problems, suggests some sort of common cause.
One plausible theory, not yet fully proven, is that testicular tissues are damaged while male foetuses are still developing, possibly as a result of their mothers' exposure to environmental pollutants which are chemically similar to the female hormone oestrogen. It may be that male foetuses are being over-exposed to oestrogen and that, as a result, some develop a range of problems with their reproductive systems.
Some studies have also linked testicular cancer to a sedentary lifestyle in boys, although further research is needed to confirm this.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor will examine your testicles and, if he or she suspects a problem, you'll probably be referred to a specialist doctor (normally a urologist). Your testicles will be examined again and you may be asked to have an ultrasound (a painless procedure) and a blood test.
Generally very good indeed. If diagnosed early, 96% of patients can be cured completely. Even when the cancer has spread, up to 80% of men can still be cured.
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Date of last review 07/04/14
Date of next review 07/04/17