A new study from the University of Exeter Medical School, UK, has helped identify the highest risk symptoms that can help indicate signs of testicular cancer, which will improve overall diagnosis.
There are several signs of testicular cancer, including a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin and a sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum; however, researchers have now discovered the highest risk symptom: testicular enlargement.
This new finding that painful testicular enlargement may indicate prostate cancer contradicts traditional teachings on diagnosis of the disease.
Dr Elizabeth Shephard, of the University of Exeter Medical School and co-lead on the study, said: “We know early and accurate diagnosis saves lives in cancer. The findings of our study give greater clarity on which patients GPs should refer for further investigation for suspected testicular cancer in order to get the best outcome for patients.”
Understanding the signs of testicular cancer
Testicular cancer is on the rise in the UK, with over 2,000 new cases every year. The number of cases has seen an increase of 27% since the late 1990s. This is expected to grow by 12% over the next two decades.
By diagnosing the cancer early, this can result in shorter treatment times and fewer complications. Early diagnosis may also help improve fertility.
Professor Willie Hamilton, the other study lead from the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Despite recent improvements, the UK still lags well behind other countries on cancer survival. Our study showed that some cancers could be confused initially with other testicular conditions, likely leading to delays in diagnosis.
“We design the risk assessment tools we use in our studies to help GPs assess risk in 20 cancers, and we’re rolling out this work as part of efforts to help improve the number of lives that can be saved.”
The research was published in the British Journal of General Practice.