How to Perform a Testicular Self-Exam
Although men of any age can develop testicular cancer, it is most common in men between the ages of 20 and 35. As is the case with any disease, early detection gives a man the best chance of successful treatment and recovery. In fact, the survival rate is almost 99% when testicular cancer is caught within the early stages!
In addition to regular checkups with a urologist, understanding how to self-check for testicular cancer can drastically increase the likelihood of detecting it early. To spread awareness, we’ve compiled a few easy-to-follow steps to help you administer a testicular self-exam. Keep reading to learn more about testicular cancer and its symptoms, as well as everything you need to know about performing an exam on yourself.
What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles, the organs that produce male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. According to doctors, testicular cancer begins in the germ cells, which are found in the testicles and are responsible for producing immature sperm. Typically, healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep the body functioning normally. However, when cells develop abnormalities and begin to grow uncontrollably, a mass or tumor can form in the testicles. Testicular cancer is a serious diagnosis, but rest assured that it is one of the most treatable cancers — especially when it’s detected early!
Learn More: 10 Testicular Cancer FAQs
Testicular Cancer Symptoms
In the beginning stages, the most common sign of testicular cancer is an emerging, painless mass in the scrotum. However, in many cases, testicular cancer presents itself with no symptoms at all. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important for men to perform regular testicular self-exams, in addition to seeing a urologist for annual checkups. Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- Fatigue or weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
- Pain, discomfort, or heaviness in a testicle or the scrotum
- A lump or enlargement in either testicle
- A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
How to Perform a Self-Exam for Testicular Cancer
Even though testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers among young men, many are unfamiliar with the disease and how to detect it. Regularly performing a testicular self-exam can help you detect signs of cancer as early as possible. Being proactive and discovering these signs early on can give you the best chance of successful treatment and recovery.
Every man should perform a testicular self-exam regularly — preferably once a month. The scrotum skin is most relaxed immediately after a bath or shower, making this the best time to perform your self-examination. These steps can help you thoroughly examine your testicles and check for testicular cancer.
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Stand in front of a mirror and look for any signs of swelling.
- Hold your penis in one hand and feel each testicle with your other hand.
- Gently roll each testicle between the thumb and fingers, feeling for any lumps or inconsistencies in texture, shape, and size. These lumps can be as small as a grain of rice and are usually firm.
Things to Look for During Your Testicular Self-Exam
Now that you know how to perform a testicular self-exam, how do you distinguish between what is normal versus what could be cancerous? For example, it is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other or to hang lower. Healthy testicles also have blood vessels, supporting tissues, and tubes that carry sperm — making it easy to mistake them for cancerous lumps.
As you perform your testicular self-exam, you should be checking for drastic differences between the two testicles. A sharp contrast in size, shape, and texture could indicate there is a problem. Checking your testicles regularly will help you establish a baseline and understand if any differences weren’t there before. If you detect any pain, swelling, or lumps in your testicles or scrotum, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately to further check for testicular cancer.
Identifying and Treating Testicular Cancer With the Urology Specialists
Testicular cancer can be treated and cured, especially if you identify the problem early and reach out to a professional to further assess your situation. If you think you are at risk for developing testicular cancer, or you would like a physical exam to check your overall urinary tract health, then contact us to schedule an appointment. Here at the Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we specialize in helping patients identify and treat testicular cancer. Our board-certified urologists will listen to your symptoms and work with you to determine the next steps for treating this disease.
In the meantime, check out our Man-to-Man Guide on Healthy Aging! As a man, it is important to prioritize your health during every stage of life. In this guide, you’ll learn the specific aspects of men’s health to be conscious of as you get older, as well as facts to keep in mind for better everyday health. Click the button below to download your free copy!
This content was originally published in April 2018 and was refreshed in December 2021.