Testicle Self-Exam

Testicular cancer

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.

Symptoms

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

Testicle self-examination

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.

Procedure:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. View testicles in the mirror, looking for swelling or any abnormalities.
  4. 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).
  5. Repeat the exam on the other side.
  6. Pull back the foreskin to check under the glans and the inside of the foreskin if you are not circumcised.
  7. 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).
  8. 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:

  1. Check the testicles every month.
  2. Have regular medical checkups that include a testicular exam done by a physician.
  3. See a physician right away if something feels strange or different. Only a physician can make a positive (or negative) diagnosis.