April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month and this article will outline some important facts and useful tips on early detection and prevention. Even though it can be found in men of all ages, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men between 15-35 years of age. The number of cases found each year has been increasing over the last several decades: approximately 8500 cases in the United States and 1000 in Canada. The good news is that if it is caught early and treated, it has a 95% success rate for survival. Most often testicular cancer is detected by men themselves, commonly as a painless lump. One of the best ways to detect it early is to learn how to check your own testicles (see below).

Known risk factors for testicular cancer
‣ Undescended testicle(s)
‣ Family history
‣ Calcium deposits in testicles
‣ Tall adult height
Possible risk factors for testicular cancer
‣ Fertility problems
‣ Early puberty
‣ Baldness
‣ Exposure to pesticides
‣ HIV infection / AIDS
‣ Marijuana
‣ Prenatal exposure to estrogens
‣ Firefighter work
‣ N,N-dimethylformamide exposure
‣ Low vitamin D
Symptoms and signs of testicular cancer
‣ Painless lump in the testicle
‣ Swelling so the testicle is larger than usual
‣ Ache in the testicle or scrotum
‣ Heaviness in the scrotum or abdomen
‣ Buildup of fluid in the scrotum
‣ Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
‣ Pain in the back or abdomen
‣ Shortness of breath, Chest pain
‣ Cough, sometimes with blood
‣ Trouble swallowing
‣ Swelling in the chest
‣ Buildup of fluid around the lungs
‣ Buildup of fluid in the abdomen
‣ Breast soreness or growth
‣ Signs of puberty in boys at an early age
‣ Weight loss, Infertility, Headaches
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How to check yourself

One of the most effective ways to be proactive about your health is to build self-awareness skills. This basically means being able to notice changes in yourself: mentally, emotionally, physically, etc. Regarding testicular cancer, learn to physically check your own testicles every month so you can notice changes. Here are some guidelines from the American and Canadian Cancer Societies:

‣ The best time to check is after bathing/showering in warm water
‣ With your thumb and index finger, gently grasp each testicle and roll it between the fingers
‣ Look and feel for any hard lumps or smooth rounded lumps or any change in size, shape and consistency of the testicles

It’s normal for your testicles to be slightly different sizes and for one to hang lower than the other. On one side of each testicle is a coiled tube (epididymis) which is commonly confused for a lump. If you’re not sure, or if you feel there’s been a change, check with your doctor for a professional evaluation.

4 tips for prevention of testicular cancer

Most of the established risk factors for testicular cancer cannot be modified, however, there are a few possible risk factors that you can make changes to work in your favour.

1. Reduce use of or consumption of pesticides. One simple way to do this is to choose organic food. Studies have found that changing to an organic diet quickly and dramatically reduces your pesticide levels found in your blood.
2. Ensure sufficient vitamin D. In 2012, German researchers published a study in the journal Anticancer Research concluding that vitamin D inhibits the growth of testicular cancer in laboratory research and could play an important role. If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough vitamin D, get a blood test to test your level. In general, eating nutritiously and getting regular exercise is proactive and generally associated with cancer prevention.
3. Get surgery to bring down an undescended testicle before onset of puberty.
4. Avoid use of marijuana unless it is medically necessary.

About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or