Testicular Self-Exam

Protecting yourself from testicular cancer through early detection

Why do it

Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in men between the ages 15 and 35. Early detection ensures survival in almost 100% of men with the most common form of testicular cancer. For all types of testicular cancer there is a 78 to 85% five-year survival rate.

When to do it

Once you're well into puberty generally between ages 13 and 15 it is important to examine your testicles once a month.

How to do it

After a warm bath or shower when the scrotum is relaxed, begin self-examination. Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand while feeling the testes one at a time. Gently roll the testicle between the thumbs and fore fingers of both hands for several minutes. Then check the epididymis. The epididymis is normally sensitive to touch. Next check the vas deferens which should feel like a smooth firm tube. As you become more accustom to checking, the entire exam should take about 3 minutes. You need to do it regularly to become accustom to how your anatomy normally feels so you can more easily detect abnormalities. If you detect any nodules, lumps, swelling or severe knifelike pain in the groin or testicles see your doctor immediately. You should also ask your doctor to examine your testicles during checkups no matter how funny it sounds.

Some harmless conditions can feel scary during an examination. About 10 to 15% of adolescents experience varicocele, which is a dilation of veins that feels like a bag of worms in the scrotum usually occurring on the left side. Surgery is only done in extreme cases when pain results from an enlargement of the scrotum. There are much less common (less than 1% of adolescents) benign conditions also observable through examination, including...

  • Spermatocele: A cyst at the head of the epididymis
  • Hydrocele: A collection of fluid in the spermatic cord. If this condition persists, surgery may be required.
  • Hernia: A protrusion of the intestines into the scrotum, which can be fixed with surgery.

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