The testicular self-exam is a way to screen for testicular cancer early when it is easiest to cure. During this test, a man examines each of his testicles for abnormal lumps. It should be done regularly because testicular cancer has few obvious symptoms.
Who is a candidate for the test?
All men who have undergone puberty should perform a testicular self-examination every month. A male whose testes failed to descend into the scrotum by age 3 has a greater risk of testicular cancer in either testicle.
How is the test performed?
A testicular self-examination (TSE) is done at home. To do a TSE, a man should raise his right leg and rest the foot on a chair. By gently moving the right testicle between the thumb and fingers of one hand he should feel for any lumps on its surface. He should then switch to his left foot on the chair and repeat these actions on the left testicle. A man should report any abnormalities, including lumps or an enlarged testicle, to his healthcare professional immediately.
What is involved in preparation for the test?
A TSE works best after a warm shower, which loosens up the muscles of the scrotum. That allows easier manipulation of the testicles.
What do the test results mean?
Normally, a testicle feels firm and consistent, and its surface is smooth. One testicle may be slightly larger and hang lower than the other. The man may feel a soft mass of tissue just outside the testicle. This is called a varicocele, and does not represent cancer. An unusually enlarged testicle or a small, hard lump on the surface of a testicle may be a sign of testicular cancer. A healthcare professional should be consulted immediately.