'Gonad groping' Brits won't spot testicle cancer - doctor

March 29, 2012

Celebrity appeals for British men to fondle their testicles to detect early signs of cancer are a waste of time and possibly harmful, an opinion piece published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says.

Singer Robbie Williams and the Leicester Tigers rugby team are among those who have lent their names to a campaign for men to be "testicle aware," just as women are encouraged to look for dangerous lumps in their breasts.

But in a personal view published in Thursday's , Doctor Keith Hopcroft, a in the southeastern county of Essex, lashes the invitation for a man to "grope his gonads or caress his crown jewels" as "well-meaning whimsy, with the potential to do harm."

"There is no good evidence that routine testicular self-examination is of any benefit," he writes.

"The chances of discovering something significant from routine self-examination of the testicles are minuscule. At least 50,000 men would need to examine themselves for 10 years to prevent one death."

Hopcroft says the "testicle aware" campaign is based on the notion that this form of cancer is a , with no symptoms of pain.

The campaigners argue men should look for painless swelling that, they say, is a possible sign of cancer.

But, argues Hopcroft, at least half of patients with usually experience pain.

The real question is teaching men to be aware of this symptom and act on it swiftly, rather than "turning the nation's blokes into ball-watching neurotics," he says

Self-examination may turn up benign swellings such as epididymal cysts that are harmless but may cause the man crippling anxiety, he adds.

Explore further: New genetic region responsible for testicle development found

Related Stories

New genetic region responsible for testicle development found

September 26, 2011
New research presented today at the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology meeting has found a genetic region, which may control testicle development in the foetus.

Recommended for you

No dye: Cancer patients' gray hair darkened on immune drugs

July 21, 2017
Cancer patients' gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gmurphy
not rated yet Mar 29, 2012
'ball-watching neurotics', they do take soccer seriously over there :)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.