The testicular self exam is best performed after a warm bath or shower.
(Heat relaxes the scrotum, making it easier to spot anything abnormal)
The TCRC recommends following these steps every month (keep in mind that the point is not to find something wrong, it is to learn what everything feels like so that you will know if something changes):
- 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 slightlylarger 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 on your testicle, 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
- 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, seemingly 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
- Blood in the urine or semen
*** 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!
Finally, embarassment is a poor excuse for not having any problem examined by a doctor. If you think there is something wrong or something has changed, please see your doctor!