Testicular cancer starts in the male gland known as a testicle or testis (two are called testicles, or testes). Though it can affect a man or boy at any age, it is most often found in men age 15 to 44 years. It’s fairly rare and very treatable. With early diagnosis, testicular cancer can be cured. With treatment, the risk of death from this cancer is small.
To catch this cancer early, men are encouraged to learn about early signs, learn how to do a testicular self-exam and talk with a health care provider if there is a suspicious lump, swelling, or pain in the area.
How do I perform a testicular self-exam?
Monthly self-exams are the best way to find a tumor early. Check the testicles right after a hot bath or shower when the scrotal skin is most relaxed. The exam should be done while standing and it only takes a few minutes.
1. Check each testicle. Gently but firmly roll each testicle between the thumb and forefingers of both hands. Feel the whole surface. The firmness of the testis should be the same all around. It’s normal for one testis to be slightly larger than the other.
2. Find the epididymis and vas deferens. These are soft tube-like structures above and behind the testicle. These tubes collect and carry sperm. Just become familiar with how these cords feel.
3. Look for lumps, swelling or things that don’t seem right. Lumps or bumps are not normal (even if they cause no pain). Pain is not normal.
4. Check yourself at least once per month. Always look for any changes in size, shape, or texture.
If you find a lump, swelling, pain or other change, get it checked out. Changes are not always cancer, but if it is cancer, you have the best chance for a cure if you see your urologist right away.