Testicular cancer is most common in men between the ages of 15 and 35, (primarily in the 20-34 age group); it is also one of the most curable cancers in males.
Signs of testicular cancer include:
- a mass in the testes, often associated with a sensation of testicular heaviness or a dull ache in the lower abdomen; pain usually does not occur
- pain in the testicles or scrotum
- abnormal back pain
- any change in size, shape, tenderness, or sensation of the testicles or scrotum
- a change in the consistency or swelling of the testicles or scrotum
- unexplained weight loss
- breast development
All teen and adult males should practice testicular self-exam regularly, and any thickening or lump should be reported to a physician. A monthly check can increase a man's chance of finding a health problem before it becomes serious. Partners often find these lumps or changes so it's a good idea to teach them as well. Testicle self-examination also serves as an opportunity for males to check for any STIs. The self-exam should be performed after a shower or bath, as the scrotum is very relaxed then.
- Holding the scrotum, take one testicle and roll it gently between the thumb and fingers (like an egg) checking for lumps, areas of new firmness or softness, or a slight enlargement. A normal testicle is firm, smooth, egg-shaped, about 1 1/2 inches long. One testicle may be a little longer than the other and the left testicle usually hangs lower in the scrotum.
- Feel the epidiymis, the comma shaped organ extending from the top of the testicle to behind it-it is normally soft and slightly tender when pressed. Also check the spermatic cord that comes up from the epididymis-normally it feels like a firm, movable, smooth tube.
- View testicles in the mirror, looking for swelling or any abnormalities.
- Check the skin on the scrotum and penis for sores and little rough bumps (these could be signs of STIs such as herpes, syphilis or genital warts).
- Repeat the exam on the other side.
- Pull back the foreskin to check under the glans and the inside of the foreskin if you are not circumcised.
- Look at the opening at the tip of the penis (it should not be red or painful and a yellow or white discharge could be a sign of an STI).
- Feel the groin area on both sides for any lumps or swollen glands. It is not normal to feel a lump or hard area in the testicle. A physician should check any lumps, skin sores or any other changes in the genitals that do not seem normal.
We strongly recommend that men:
- Check the testicles every month.
- Have regular medical checkups that include a testicular exam done by a physician.
- See a physician right away if something feels strange or different. Only a physician can make a positive (or negative) diagnosis.