Check your balls and save your life

Check your balls and save your life. This is the advice of Michele Vanzaghi, a 27-year-old doctor who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020. In this editorial, Dr. Vanzaghi on why we need to take testicular cancer seriously.

Testicular cancer is most common in 15 to 35 year olds

Although testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer, it is still the most common type of cancer affecting men between the ages of 15 and 35.

Yes! The average age of men diagnosed with testicular cancer is 33 years.

According to international statistics, approximately 1 in 250 men will develop testicular cancer at some point in their lives. The incidence rate of testicular cancer has been increasing in many countries around the world for several decades. The increase occurs mainly in seminomas. Experts could not find any reasons for this, although the rate of increase has slowed recently.

Although this rare cancer has a high cure rate, it can have serious health implications. Because of this, it is easier to treat in its earlier stages. A testicular self-examination (TSE) is the most effective and important method for men to detect this disease in its early stages.

A disease of youth

The challenge is that many young men are unaware of this testicular cancer, or the changes that may occur in their bodies if they develop this disease. Young teenagers and young men often don’t think that cancer is a disease that could happen to them.

Testicular cancer is a disease of young men. Often our invincibility when we are young leads us to believe that health screenings are not important. As a young person who knows the value of early diagnosis and early treatment, I want to make it my mission to bring awareness and comfort to screening for male health issues.

The importance of a self-check

testicular self-examination (TSE) takes only a minute and can help detect anomalies. It’s important that you become familiar with the look, feel, and shape of your testicles. This allows you to see if there are any changes.

If you notice hard lumps or nodules (smooth, rounded masses), or changes in the size, shape, or consistency of any testicle, see your doctor as soon as possible

The signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include

  • A lump or enlargement in one of the testicles.
  • Heaviness in the scrotum.
  • A dull ache in the abdomen or groin.
  • A sudden accumulation of fluid in the scrotum.
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or scrotum.
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts.
  • back pain.

Check your balls monthly

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), it is important for men try to do a TSE (check) every month. This allows you to become familiar with the normal size and shape of your testicles, making it easier for you to see if anything feels different or abnormal in the future.

Early detection saves lives

My diagnosis of testicular cancer initially had a massive impact. I couldn’t practice medicine in the hospital because my immune system was weak and I was at risk of getting a serious infection. Now in complete remission I am physically very healthy. Most of the stress comes in the form of emotional distress from follow-up exams and blood tests. There are also social issues associated with cancer that sometimes make it difficult to live with.

Early detection and screening through awareness campaigns and education are crucial. It saved my life, and I want to use what I’ve learned to help save the lives of many other young men.

About the author

dr Michele Vanzaghi, is a South African doctor who was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 25. Since then he has devoted his time and experience to educating the public about testicular cancer. You can read more about his personal journey at

dr  Michele Vanzaghi,

dr Michele Vanzaghi,

Public service message in support of testicular cancer awareness

The Hollard Daredevil Run is one such awareness campaign. Now in the 12thth Every year at this annual event thousands of men run 5km dressed only in purple Speedos. This year’s event in South Africa will take place on September 30th and will see men and boys across South Africa getting cancer ‘out of their heads’. This “run-with-a-difference” that makes a difference challenges stereotypes about male cancer and starts important conversations about prostate and testicular cancer. Follow Daredevil Run on Facebook or visit for more information.

For more information about testicular cancer and how to do a self-examination, go to


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