Reproductive health and wellbeing


How do I check for testicular cancer?

It is important for young men to check their testis once a month in order to become familiar with the texture and size of each testis and to be aware of any changes in the testes. It is normal for one testis to be slightly bigger than the other, but if there is any change to how it feels normally (ie: a hard lump or swelling), you should make an appointment to see your local GP.
The best time to do the exam is during or right after a shower or a bath. The warm water relaxes the skin on your scrotum and makes the exam easier. Using the palm of the hand, support the scrotum. Gently roll the testicle between your thumb and fingers. You should be feeling for any lumps or swellings in or on the surface of the testis. The testes should feel firm and the surface smooth. Using your thumb and fingers, you should also feel along the epididymis at the back of the testis. Check for any swelling in this area. It is normal for one testicle to be a little bit bigger than the other. The testicles should be smooth and firm. If you feel any bumps or lumps which appear abnormal to you, visit your local doctor right away.

What are the signs of testicular cancer?

Signs or symptoms of testicular cancer can include the presence of a hard lump in either testicle (in approximately 10 – 20% of men the lump may be painful), swelling and tenderness of the testis or scrotum, a dull ache or ‘heaviness’ in the lower abdomen or groin, constant backache, cough or breathlessness and enlarged or tender ‘breasts’ may also be signs for men.

What causes testicular cancer?

In most cases of testicular cancer the cause remains unknown. However there are certain risk factors that have been associated with it. The main ones include:
Undescended testis - A condition where one or both of the testes do not move down or “descend” into the scrotum, but remain in the abdomen after the first year of life. Men with a history of undescended testes after infancy have approximately five times the risk of testicular cancer compared to men with normally descended testes.
History of testicular cancer in the other testis -  5-6% of men who have had testicular cancer in one testis will have changes in the other testis that may develop into cancer.
History of male infertility - Men with a history of male infertility, particularly as a result of an undescended testis, may also be at more risk of testicular cancer than men with normal fertility.
A more minor risk factor is if there is a history of testicular cancer in the family.
There is no evidence of a link between testicular cancer and lifestyle choices (ie: smoking or diet), injury, sporting strains or sexual activity.

What is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is a condition that can affect men whereby a tumour grows in the testes (the oval-shaped glands inside the scrotum). Tumours occur when cells begin dividing or growing in an irregular way, leading to an abnormal growth or lump.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breasts to check for any irregularities. In Vietnam it is recommended women have their first mammogram between the ages of 35-39 years or when indicated by a doctor. Depending on their risk factors, women should then have a mammogram every 1-2 years until the age of 49. Yearly mammograms are recommended for women 50 years or older.

How do I do a breast check?

Performing self-examination on your breasts is a simple routine and should not take long. It is good to find a quiet moment when you will not be disturbed and a place where you feel warm and relaxed like your bedroom.
Step One
Undress from the waist up and stand in front of a mirror. Your breasts look different when your arms are in different positions, so get to know what they look like. With your arms by your sides look at your breasts as you turn from side to side.  Stretching upwards, keep looking for anything unusual, not forgetting your nipples.  Place your hands on your hips and press your hands on your hips until you feel your chest muscles tighten. Look particularly for any skin changes like a dimple or ‘orange peel’ effect.
Step Two
Lie flat on your back with your head on a pillow and raise your left shoulder slightly. Using the right hand on your left breast, press gently but firmly. Work in a circular motion, feeling around the nipple and moving to the outer part of the breast. Remember to keep your fingers together and use the flat part of your fingers, not the tips. Now raise your left arm above your head and do the same circular check again. Finish off this side by feeling right up into your armpit – a lot of women do not realise that their breast actually extends that far, so lumps may develop in this area. Now, check your right breast with your left hand following the same method.

What should I be looking for during a breast check?

When performing a breast examination on yourself it is important to be aware of what is normal for you and changes to look out for. You are not just looking for lumps, but also a change in the shape of your breasts, unusual pain in just one place, dimpling on the skin (a bit like an ‘orange peel’ effect), changes in your nipples including a rash, nipple turning inwards and bleeding or discharge.