How to Perform the Self-Examination of the Testicles


Regular Reviewer

You still don?t have the habit of checking your testes? The self-examination of the testicles is vital for early detection of testicular cancer.

Testicular tumor
In the developed countries, there are 3 to 6 new patients with testicular cancer per 100.000 men every year. The number of newly discovered patients increases every year. If your testes failed to descend into the scrotum in childhood (cryptorchism) or if you had inguinal hernia, you are 5 to 20 per cent more likely to have cancer of the testicles. There are a number of other risk factors, but research om their influences is still underway ? family history of diseases, early puberty, the mother?s age at birth, birth weight, smoking during pregnancy and various types of radiation. Testicular cancer is first detected as a small bump or lump that you can feel during the self-examination of the testicles. Every lump doesn?t mean cancer, so don?t panic and see your doctor as soon as possible. You should be particularly careful of the following signs:

  • a gradual or sudden increase or decrease in the size of of the testicles,
  • a painful or painless lump or swelling in any part of a testis,
  • a heavy feeling in the scrotum,
  • a dull ache in the lower abdomen, groin or scrotum,
  • pain in the abdomen and back,
  • the pressure of swollen lymph glands on the bladder (it may show symptoms of kidney disease),
  • gynaecomastia (enlarged and tender breasts), in the case of hormone active testicular tumors.

The self-examination of the testicles
It?s advisable to check your testes once a month on the same day and at the same hour. You should choose a warm place to relax your testes. It?s best if you perform the self-examination of the testicles after having a shower or a hot bath. You always check one testis at a time, while the other one serves as comparison. First you have to know well the structure of your testes: where are the vessels, epididymis and vas deferens. Then it?ll be easier to discern any changes.

How do you check your testes:

1. Hold your scrotum in your hands so as to have your thumb and other fingers free to be able to feel your testes.
2. Check each testis separately. Do it gently according to the following order:
First you have to check the epididymis. You should feel soft and tender tissue towards the back of each testis.
Then find the vas deferens extending from the epididymis to the urethra, located at the back of the testicles. You should feel a firm, muscular and smooth tube.

Finally, check the testis itself. It should be smooth and without swelling or lumps. A lump or swelling often appears in the front of the testicles.

You might feel a millet-sized lump, which isn?t necessarily a sign of a disease. However, every lump in the testis itself is suspicious regardless of size or position.

3. Check both testes in the same manner.

Treating testicular cancer

Treatment for testicular cancer is very effective. Namely, 90 per cent of men are cured. You can start a suitable treatment after your doctor makes the diagnosis. In most cases, men undergo a surgical procedure in which the whole testis is removed. An additional treatment is given in the form of chemotherapy. Even if you have only one testis, it?s necessary to have check-ups because there is a strong possibility of recurrence of testicular cancer. Often cancer of the testes spreads to other parts of the body. It?s therefore very important to check your testes regularly and detect cancer at the right time. Treatment of other forms of cancer isn?t as nearly effective as the treatment of cancer of the testicles. Don?t be afraid to see your doctor. After all, it?s your life you are putting at risk.