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Patient self-examination and education in testicular cancer

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In the UK, just over 2000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year. Worldwide the incidence rates of testicular cancer are increasing in white men.1

Testicular cancer (a urological cancer) begins when normal cells in a testicle change and grow uncontrollably, forming a tumour. The tumour can be benign or malignant with metastatic spread to other parts of the body. Testicular cancer is nearly always curable if it is found early; it is usually curable even when it is at an advanced stage. Testicular cancer can develop in one or both testes.

The testes

The testes (the male gonads) are situated posterior to the penis in the scrotal sac, and are two oval shaped organs (See link to table below). The testes move freely in the scrotum, however, each testicle is attached to the body wall by the spermatic cord, a thin cord that passes through a cavity in the pelvis and into the abdomen. The cord contains the nerves and blood vessels for the testes as well as the vas deferens, which carries the sperm from the testes into the urethra; the urethra upon ejaculation delivers the sperm to the outside of the body.

The testes are external to the body and are maintained at a temperature approximately 2°C lower than the core body temperature. Sperm production and quality is optimal at this lower temperature.

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