Testicular cancer: are you a regular self-checker?

The Six Nations rugby championship may be almost over for another year, but the vast majority of men who play rugby are still not checking themselves for testicular cancer, says new research by the charity Orchid – Fighting Male Cancer.

Figures released by the charity show that only 36.6 percent of rugby players regularly check themselves – and that means the two thirds of men who aren’t checking themselves could be putting their lives at risk.

Scottish rugby legend Eric Peters knows only too well the dangers of not self-checking, as he was diagnosed with testicular cancer while undergoing rehabilitation for shattering his knee. As he wasn’t in training at the time, he knew that the pain in his scrotum couldn’t be from the normal training knocks and bumps.

Thankfully Eric went to get it checked out, and was diagnosed with early-stage testicular cancer. He was subsequently treated successfully for the disease, and ended up being able to play rugby for his country again.

“The reality is that we need more men of all sports to be comfortable with holding more than just a rugby ball in their hands,” says Eric.

“I survived testicular cancer because I knew the importance of getting checked out at the earliest opportunity, and I caught mine in the early stages. Self-checking is quick and easy and it could mean you spot something early that saves your life.

“Whichever nation you support, we can all support beating cancer, and you can do your bit by checking yourself once a month.”

Check yourself

If caught at an early stage, 98 percent of men with testicular cancer – which most commonly affects those between the ages of 15 – 45 – will survive. That’s why monthly self-checking is recommended, as it’s the best way to spot any warning signs early on.

So how exactly should you self check? Here’s what the experts at Orchid suggest you should do:

1. Check the entire surface of each testicle separately, and carefully, using one or both hands.

2. Roll each testicle between the thumb and forefinger to check that the surface is free of lumps or bumps. Do not squeeze.

3. Get to know your testicles; their size, texture and anatomy. Identify the epididymis or sperm collecting tube, often mistaken for an abnormal lump that runs behind each testicle.

4. Encourage your partner to have a go as he or she may be more likely to identify a problem in the future and get you to do something about it.

If you feel a small pea-sized lump, or any abnormality on the testicle, you should go to your doctor and get it checked at the earliest opportunity.

You can also watch the charity’s self-check video online at https://youtu.be/I7QfH6w784Q.