Only 5% of men don’t know how to check themselves for testicular cancer. But there’s still more to do.
A new survey commissioned by King Edward VII’s Hospital has revealed that the number of men who don’t know how to check themselves has fallen to just 5%.
This represents a vast improvement in awareness and goes to show how effective awareness campaigns like Movember have been; in 2014, as many as 68% of men didn’t know how to check their testicles.
But although awareness has improved drastically, there is still a long way to go.
Too many men aren’t checking themselves
Our survey revealed that, despite knowing how, almost a third of men have never checked their testicles.
While testicular cancer is a less common form of cancer, it shouldn’t be dismissed. In the UK, testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young men, predominantly affecting men between the ages of 15 and 49.
Yet these are the very men who aren’t checking themselves enough. In fact, a shocking 59% of men between the ages of 18 and 24 have never checked their testicles. So, while campaigns such as Movember have succeeded in making men aware of what to do, there is still work to do in order to make men do it.
And our survey has revealed that too many men wouldn’t seek medical advice even if they found something.
Too many men would ignore a lump
It’s something of a stereotype that men ignore medical problems or refuse to seek help. Our survey identified a number of reasons that men might put off a visit to their GP, with waiting times and “hassle” topping the list.
But almost a quarter of men wouldn’t visit their GP if they found a lump.
While many lumps in the scrotum aren’t cancerous, and can be caused by swollen blood vessels or cysts, a painless lump is the primary symptom of testicular cancer. And, if diagnosed early, nearly all patients survive testicular cancer.
But survival rates do drop if the cancer has spread beyond the testicle. Therefore it’s vitally important to visit your GP immediately if you discover a lump.
Will COVID-19 discourage men from reaching out?
The coronavirus pandemic has placed extra pressure on health services, and the concern is that this may discourage even more men from seeking medical advice if they find a lump.
But steps have been taken to ensure that care can be provided despite the extra pressure caused by the virus. You might find that you have more appointments by telephone or video call, and you might find that your local NHS trust is using private hospitals for cancer appointments or treatments.
It’s possible that men may be discouraged by the fact that some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, can affect the immune system’s ability to fight against infections. But it’s vital that men don’t wait for the pandemic to pass before seeking medical advice.
The truth is that survival rates improve when cancer is caught earlier. Campaigns such as Movember are vital in spreading awareness, and this year a focus needs to be placed on seeking treatment despite concerns about the pandemic.
Anyone concerned about how COVID-19 might impact their treatment should speak to their GP in the first instance.
How to check your testicles
- Roll one testicle gently between the fingers and thumbs of both hands.
- Look and feel for any change in the size, shape, or consistency of your testicles. Check for any hard lumps, or smooth, rounded bumps.
- Do the same with your other testicle
It’s important to check your testicles on a regular basis; checking them whenever you’re in the shower is a good idea.
18% of men aren’t sure if they’re checking their testicles correctly, so don’t be embarrassed; if you’re not sure, speak to your GP.
Symptoms of testicular cancer
- A painless swelling or lump in a testicle
- Increased firmness of a testicle
- One testicle looks different to the other
- A dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles or your scrotum; this may come and go
- A heavy feeling in your scrotum
If your testicles or scrotum feel different, speak to your GP immediately.