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Teen Health: Testicular Self-exam  Previous Next

Testicular Self-exam

by: Amy Otis, RN

Testicular Self-exam
Do it Every Month! Why?

Cancer of the testicles accounts for only about one percent of all cancers in men. BUT, it is the most common type of cancer in males ages 16 to 35, and it can occur anytime after age fifteen.

Often, only one testicle is affected. The cause of testicular cancer is still unknown. Risk factors, however, have been found. These include:

  Uncorrected undescended testicles in infants and young children. (Parents should make sure that their infant boys are checked at birth for undescended testicles.)

  A family history of testicular cancer. (If you don’t know, ask.)

  Having an identical twin with testicular cancer.

  Injury to the scrotum or to a testicle.

  It’s five times more common among Caucasian than Black males.

What is Testicular Self-Exam? (TSE)

The TSE is a method for guys and men to check their testicles to make sure there aren't any unusual bumps or lumps, which may be the first sign of testicular cancer. Sometimes cancer of the testicles will spread, so it’s very important to detect it early so that the cancer doesn't become more serious. The 6th time Tour de France winner and great cyclist Lance Armstrong beat testicular cancer, but he ignored symptoms for a long time and nearly died from it because it had spread so much.

How Do I Do A TSE?

Check yourself right after a hot shower. The skin of the scrotum is then relaxed and soft.
Become familiar with the normal size, shape and weight of your testicles.
Using both hands, gently roll each testicle between your fingers.
Identify the epididymis. This is a rope-like structure on the top and back of each testicle. This structure is NOT an abnormal lump.
Be on the alert for a tiny lump under the skin, in front or along the sides of either testicle. A lump may remind you of a piece of uncooked rice or a small cooked pea.
Report any swelling to your health care provider.

If you have any lumps or swelling, it does not necessarily mean you have cancer, but you must be checked by your health care provider. If detected and treated early , testicular cancer is one of the most curable cancers.

Warning Signs of A Problem

In the early stages, testicular cancer may have no symptoms. When there are symptoms, they include:

Small, painless lump in a testicle.
Enlarged testicle.
Feeling of heaviness in the testicle or groin.
Pain in the testicle.
A change in the way the testicle feels.
Enlarged male breasts and nipples.
Blood or fluid that accumulates suddenly in the scrotum.

Remember that testicular cancer is highly curable, especially when detected and treated early. Testicular cancer almost always occurs in only one testicle and the other testicle is all that is needed for full sexual function.

Routine testicular self-exams are important, but they cannot substitute for a health care provider's examination. That person should examine your testicles when you have a physical exam. You can also ask them to teach you the correct way to do a TSE. Here’s to your health!


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