How to Do a Testicular Self Examination:
It is common knowledge that a monthly breast self-exam for women is an
effective part of early breast cancer detection. For men, starting at age 15,
monthly self-exams of the testicles are also an effective way of getting to know
this area of your body and thus detecting testicular cancer (TC) at an early --
and very curable -- stage.
The self exam for TC is best performed after a warm bath or
(Heat relaxes the scrotum, making it easier to spot anything
The National Cancer Institute recommends following these steps every month:
- Stand in front of a mirror. Check for any swelling on the scrotal skin.
- Examine each testicle
with both hands. Place the index and middle fingers under the testicle with
the thumbs placed on top. Roll the testicle gently between the thumbs and
fingers -- you shouldn't feel any pain when doing the exam. Don't be alarmed
if one testicle seems slightly larger than the other, that's normal.
- Find the epididymis, the soft, tubelike structure behind the testicle that
collects and carries sperm. If you are familiar with this structure, you won't
mistake it for a suspicious lump. Cancerous lumps usually are found on the
sides of the testicle but can also show up on the front. Lumps on the
epididymis are not cancerous.
- If you find a lump, see a doctor, preferably a urologist, right
away. The abnormality may not be cancer, it may just be an infection. But
if it is testicular cancer, it will spread if it is not stopped by treatment.
Waiting and hoping will not fix anything. Please note that free floating lumps
in the scrotum that are not attached in any way to a testicle are not
testicular cancer. When in doubt, get it checked out - if only for
peace of mind!
Other signs of testicular cancer to keep in mind are:
- Any enlargement of a testicle
- A significant loss of size in one of the testicles
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or in the groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- Blood in the urine
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts.
I hesitate to mention the following list, since anything out of the ordinary
down there should prompt a visit to the doctor, but you should be aware that the
following symptoms are not normally signs of testicular cancer:
- A pimple, ingrown hair or rash on the scrotal skin
- A free floating lump in the scrotum, but not attached to anything
- A lump on the epidiymis or tubes coming from the testicle that kind of
feels like a third testicle.
- Pain or burning during urination
*** Remember, only a physician can make a positive diagnosis
For that matter, only a physician can make a negative diagnosis too. If you
think something feels strange, go see the doctor!
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This page was last updated on Aug 06,
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