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Cedars-Sinai Magazine

Testicular Health: Overcoming the Taboo

Man looking at the view

Some men might not know their risk of testicular cancer or even feel comfortable talking about the health of their testicles.

“Testicle health, and male sex organs in general, can seem like a taboo topic for some,” says Ariel Moradzadeh, MD, urologist at Cedars-Sinai. “Removing this taboo is key to raising men’s awareness of testicular cancer.”

Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer for men between the ages of 15 and 35. Here are the main things to know.

Ariel Moradzadeh, MD

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1 Men Should Do a Testicular Self-Exam Every Month

It’s best to do a testicular self-exam during a shower or warm bath, when the scrotum is more relaxed. Cup one testicle at a time with both hands, then roll the testicle between the thumbs and fingers, feeling for any lumps, changes in size or irregularities. “It’s not hard to detect an abnormality,” Moradzadeh says. “The testicle should feel smooth between the fingers, like a hard-boiled egg without the shell.”

2 Younger Men Are More Likely to Die of Testicular Cancer

The average age of a testicular cancer diagnosis is 33. Younger men also tend to develop more aggressive subtypes of testicular cancer, which may contribute to a higher mortality rate. “Younger men are in their prime age for fertility,” Moradzadeh says. “Sperm-producing cells in younger men are constantly having cell turnover, which may be the reason why testicular cancer tends to occur in younger men.”

3 Removing a Testicle Does Not Guarantee a Cancer-Free Future

For men who are diagnosed with testicular cancer and have a testicle removed, it’s important to continue follow-up care to ensure early detection of any new cancers. “Men can get testicular cancer in the other, unaffected testicle later on, so having one testicle removed doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods,” Moradzadeh says.

4 Men Who are Young, Healthy and “Feel Fine” Are Still at Risk

Younger men often think they’re healthy if they feel fine and can go to the gym and participate in other regular activities. This attitude can be a deterrent to seeking care. “If you do a self-exam and feel an abnormality, or are concerned about your risk of testicular cancer, don’t live in a state of denial,” Moradzadeh says. “Definitely seek medical advice from a healthcare provider.”