The importance of self-examination when it comes to testicular cancer


2 minutes

21 November 2023

Young healthy man with his dog smiles, about to go for run

Testicular cancer is a significant health concern to younger men, with almost 1,000 people predicted to be diagnosed with the condition in Australia by the end of 20231. As with most cancers, the earlier it’s caught, the more likely there is to be a positive outcome.

Dr Andy, HBF’s Chief Medical Officer, delves into prevalence, risk factors, and advancements in early detection and how this is crucial for effective management and improved outcomes.

In this article

Prevalence and Incidence

According to the Cancer Council, testicular cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among Australian males aged 20-39 years.1 The incidence of the condition has shown a steady increase over the past few decades. From 1982 to 2018, the rate of testicular cancer in Australia rose from 4.2 to 7.4 cases per 100,000 males.2

Risk Factors

Several risk factors can contribute to the development of testicular cancer. Cryptorchidism, a condition where the testes fail to descend into the scrotum properly, is a significant risk factor.

Other risk factors may include:

  • a family history of the disease
  • previous history of testicular cancer
  • cannabis use
  • certain genetic conditions like Klinefelter syndrome1
  • increased height.3


Early Detection and Diagnosis

The most effective way to improve outcomes for testicular cancer is early detection and the main way to achieve this is through self-examination.

The Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation recommends monthly self-exams to check for any changes in the size, shape, or consistency of the testicles (see below for a link to The Cancer Council's how-to guide for self-examination).

Any lumps, swelling, or pain should prompt an urgent appointment with a GP.

Your GP will speak with you about symptoms you have, perform a thorough examination and potentially recommend investigations such as an ultrasound or blood tests that aid in the diagnosis of testicular cancer.

Treatment and Survival Rates

The five-year survival rate for localised testicular cancer in Australia is around 98%4, highlighting the importance of early detection and prompt treatment.

Treatment for testicular cancer depends on the stage and type of cancer. Surgery to remove the affected testicle, known as radical orchidectomy (or orchiectomy), is the primary treatment. In cases where the cancer has spread, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be necessary. 

The prognosis for testicular cancer is generally positive, particularly when diagnosed at an early stage.

“Whilst the high survival rates in those who have had testicular cancer is certainly something to be positive about, it’s important to remember that the biggest driver for this is early identification and management” says Dr Andy.

A guide to self-examination from The Cancer Council

The Cancer Council provides a handy “how-to” guide for self-examination on their webpage: so if you haven’t examined yourself before or it’s been a while, take a look.

This involves 3 easy steps to do in the shower, how things should feel and the symptoms you should be aware of.

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1Cancer Council Australia – Testicular cancer
2Cancer Australia – Testicular Cancer
3Lerro CC, McGlynn KA, Cook MB. – A systematic review and meta-analysis of the relationship between body size and testicular cancer. Br J Cancer. 2010 Oct 26;103(9):1467-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605934. PMID: 20978513; PMCID: PMC2990613
4Cancer Council Australia – Testicular Cancer: Position Statement


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.