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Testicular cancer is an uncommon cancer that has a lifetime risk. Worldwide, an estimated 74,458 people were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020. Men between the ages of 15 – 35 are particularly at risk.

Symptoms include lumps or size differences in either testicles, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, and a dull ache in the abdomen or groin.

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to any cancer

As part of Longevity’s #WellnessWednesday initiative, Gisele Wertheim Aymes spoke to Michele Vanzaghi – a medical doctor and testicular cancer survivor. He is passionate about encouraging testicular self-examination in men. The 27-year-old’s profession helped him detect his cancer diagnosis in its early stages back in 2020.

The disease remains asymptomatic for a long time

“I think the point of me raising awareness is that I didn’t really have symptoms. I think the most pertinent thing about what testicular cancer is that essentially, for a very long time, it remains an asymptomatic disease, what that means is that you don’t really have some systemic symptoms”.

Grabbed By The Balls raises awareness for testicular cancer

Dr Michele Vanzhargi

Dr Michele Vanzhargi

Grabbed By The Balls” is an initiative born throughout his story alongside testicular cancer. In the beginning of 2020, as a young medical doctor, he was diagnosed with early-stage Non-Seminoma Testicular Cancer.

After undergoing a left orchidectomy (removal of the testicle) and 5 months of chemotherapy, he found himself back at work, with a newly found passion for sharing his experiences and insights. Being diagnosed with cancer at such a young age certainly changed the way he experienced the world.

Although it may seem like a cliché, I do believe that it is our experiences that manifest in our behaviour. Initially it was a sense of deeper prying into why things happen to us, trying to process the obvious different walks of life”.

Testicular cancer is prevalent in young males

A striking feature of testicular cancer is the high prevalence that it shows in young, healthy males. It is a disease that often manifests without symptoms or underlying risk factors. It is therefore one of the diseases that significantly relies on routine screening for diagnosis.

“I too would have neglected to further investigate what was only a small lump on my left testicle. Frequent self-examinations will give one the unparalleled power to be comfortable with your body and develop the ability to differentiate normal from abnormal” says Dr Vanzaghi.

Regular self-examination should be habitual

As a disclaimer, the examination can be done by anybody and the phrase self-examination is a misnomer. A testicular examination is broken down into a few easy steps:

  • Following a warm shower, stand in front of the mirror and inspect the testes. Always compare left and right.

  • First, look for any significant size discrepancies.

  • Then, observe for skin changes such as color or inconsistent textures.

  • Thereafter, use one hand to keep the testicle in place by gently pinching the scrotum above the testicle. You should feel a cord structure between your fingers that connects the testicle to your body. During its insertion onto the testicle, it is normal to feel a raised area.

  • Use the other hand, with a rolling motion, to carefully feel along the entire surface of the testicle for any lumps, irregularities, or pain.

  • Repeat this on the other side.

“It is human nature to live in denial of what we fear to be true. Following my experience, it has become a passion of mine to advocate for accepting and managing the truth. This will always yield more benefit than what the adversities of an anxious mind can bring”

The bottom line

A trip to your friendly urologist to double-check a small lump might seem like a devastating duty, but that peace of mind, albeit a harsh reality, will allow for a better outcome.

Watch The Interview

The video interview includes much more detail on Dr Vanzhargi’s personal journey – both emotional and physical. We encourage readers to watch the full video interview here.


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Check Your Balls and Save Your Life

Dr. Michele Vanzaghi is a South African medical doctor who was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 25 years.  Since then he has dedicated his time and experience to helping educate the public on testicular cancer. You can read more about his personal journey here.

Thapelo Mowela

Thapelo Mowela is a freelance writer and content producer with a passion for people and their stories. She began her career at the SABC  as one of the producers for a news show. Her job entails, producing , coming up with content and scripting for the news anchors, organizing guest, shooting inserts, voicing inserts and editing. She also gained experience in radio, when she worked as a content producer at Touch HD online. She currently writes fitness and lifestyle columns for a few newspapers. She fell in love with fitness and wants to share with other, ways to better their lifestyles.  In her spare time she’s hiking, travelling, or reading .

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.