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Testicular cancer can be deadly. Luckily, the disease is also easily curable — if a man finds it in time. Testicular cancer usually begins as a painless lump, which can be found without a doctor’s help. For his own good health, every man — not just older men — should know how to do a self-check of the testicles. In fact, testicular cancer most often appears in men from ages 15 to 35. Start in your teen years. Checking testicles for lumps is quick, painless, and can save a life.

The best time to perform a self-exam is after a hot shower or bath because the warm water allows the scrotum to relax and the testicles to drop down. You can do the check while you’re sitting, standing, or lying down.

  • Gently take each testicle and roll it between your thumb and forefinger to see if you detect anything different about how it feels compared with last time. Your testicle should feel smooth and firm with a slight softness, a lot like a hard-boiled egg without the shell.
  • As a guide, compare your two testicles to each other. It’s normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other and/or one to hang lower than the other.
  • The epididymis sits on top of the testicle. Some men examining themselves for testicular cancer mistake it for a strange lump. They get a real fright before a doctor explains to them what it is. (A coiled tube through which sperm swim and mature.) So what you need to have clear in your mind is that you are checking your testicle — the hard-boiled egg. The lumpy epididymis, which lies on top of the testicle, belongs there and is supposed to be lumpy but not tender.
  • If you do find something that feels different, pick up the phone right away and make an appointment to see a urologist.
    Do this test around the same time each month to get into the habit. Sometimes a minor injury to the groin area may cause some swelling. This swelling can mask the presence of an undetected cancerous growth. This is why a monthly checkup is necessary — so you know what’s normal for you from month to month, and what’s not.


People with testicular cancer may experience a variety of symptoms or signs. Sometimes, men with testicular cancer do not have any of these changes, or the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer. So, having these symptoms does not mean that a man definitely has cancer.

Usually, an enlarged testicle or a small lump or area of hardness are the first signs of testicular cancer. Any lump, enlargement, hardness, pain, or tenderness should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. Other symptoms of testicular cancer usually do not appear until after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Symptoms of testicular cancer may include:

  • A painless lump or swelling on either testicle. If found early, a testicular tumor may be about the size of a pea or a marble, but it can grow much larger.
  • Pain, discomfort, or numbness in a testicle or the scrotum, with or without swelling.
  • Change in the way a testicle feels or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. For example, 1 testicle may become firmer than the other testicle. Or testicular cancer may cause the testicle to grow bigger or to become smaller.
  • Dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin
  • Sudden build up of fluid in the scrotum
  • Breast tenderness or growth. Although rare, some testicular tumors make hormones that cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue, a condition called gynecomastia.
  • Lower back pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, and bloody sputum or phlegm can be symptoms of later-stage testicular cancer.
  • Swelling of 1 or both legs or shortness of breath from a blood clot can be symptoms of testicular cancer. A blood clot in a large vein is called deep venous thrombosis or DVT. A blood clot in an artery in the lung is called a pulmonary embolism and causes shortness of breath. For some young or middle-aged men, developing a blood clot may be the first sign of testicular cancer.

How to physically check for breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer with almost 50,000 women diagnosed each year and around 11,500 deaths as a result of breast cancer. But more women than ever are surviving breast cancer as advances in medicine and awareness are increasing. As with all cancers, the faster breast cancer is diagnosed, the less likely it is to spread and the more chance you have of quickly getting back to living the life you love.

Breast cancer can occur at any stage in a woman’s life cycle, so it is important that whatever age you are, you check your breasts regularly (once a month or so) so that you can monitor any changes.

What should you look for?

It’s not just lumps that you should be checking for. There are several other indicators of breast cancer that you can look out for too. Get in touch with your doctor if you notice one or a combination of the following changes in your breast:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
  • A nipple that has changed position
  • An inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  • Clear or bloody fluid leaking from the nipple

How to perform a breast check:

Step 1 – Look

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here's what you should see: Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour. Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
But if you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

Step 2 - Raise your arms

Look again at your breasts with your raise your arms above your head and look for the same changes.

Step 3 - Lean forward

Now, lean forward so that there is a pendulum affect in your breasts, look for any dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin.

Step 4 - Fluids?

While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

Step 5 - Feel lying down

Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast.

Use a firm, smooth touch with the first three finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion. Check the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women.

Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; for tissue in the middle of your breasts use medium pressure; and for the deep tissue in the back use firm pressure.
When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your rib cage.

Step 6 - Feel standing or sitting

Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 5.


Breast pain or lump: Is it cancer?

A sharp pain in your breast, possibly with some tenderness, may have you wondering if it could be something serious. A breast lump is often the first thing that women and even men notice that spurs a visit to their doctor.
Although breast cancer generally shows no symptoms in the early stage, timely detection can turn a story of breast cancer into a survivor’s tale.

Although a lump in the breast is typically associated with breast cancer, much of the time such lumps aren’t cancer.

Common causes of benign breast lumps include:

  • breast infection
  • fibrocystic breast disease (“lumpy breasts”)
  • fibroadenoma (noncancerous tumor)
  • fat necrosis (damaged tissue)

With fat necrosis, the mass can’t be distinguished from a cancerous lump without a biopsy.
Even though the majority of breast lumps are caused by less severe conditions, new, painless lumps are still the most common symptom of breast cancer.
Early on, a woman may notice a change in her breast when she performs a monthly breast exam or minor abnormal pain that doesn’t seem to go away. Early signs of breast cancer include:

  • changes in the shape of the nipple
  • breast pain that doesn’t go away after your next period
  • a new lump that doesn’t go away after your next period
  • nipple discharge from one breast that is clear, red, brown, or yellow
  • unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
  • swelling or a lump around the collarbone or under the arm

A lump that is hard with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous.
Later signs of breast cancer include:

  • retraction, or inward turning of the nipple
  • enlargement of one breast
  • dimpling of the breast surface
  • an existing lump that gets bigger
  • an “orange peel” texture to the skin
  • vaginal pain
  • unintentional weight loss
  • enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
  • visible veins on the breast

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Nipple discharge, for example, can also be caused by an infection.