Testicular Self-Exam (TSE). Performing this simple, 3-minute self-examination once a month, will help you detect testicular cancer. The best time to check yourself is in the shower because fingers glide over soapy skin, and it's easier to concentrate on the texture underneath. After a warm bath is also good because the heat causes the skin to relax, making the exam easier.

As you perform these monthly self-exams, you will learn what is normal for you. That way you will be better able to detect any of the following symptoms:


  • A small, hard, usually painless lump, pea-size or greater, on the front or side of the testicle.
  • Enlargement of a testicle or a change in a testicle's consistency.
  • A heavy feeling in the testes.
  • Pain or discomfort, which may develop in one testicle or around the groin. But don't wait for pain to develop. Report any signs or symptoms, such as swelling, lumps, or heaviness, to your doctor immediately.
  • Enlargement of the lymph nodes in your groin or neck. The lymph nodes are glands that produce white blood cells and fight infection. When swollen, they feel round (about the size of a small marble or larger) and are often tender or painful.

If you find anything out of the ordinary, contact your doctor promptly because about 95 percent of masses in the testes are malignant. Early detection and prompt treatment is the best way to guarantee a cure.

1. Start by examining one of your testicles. Slowly roll it between your thumb and fingers, applying slight pressure and looking for hard, painless lumps.

2. Then examine your epididymis (the comma shaped cord behind each testicle). It may be tender to the touch, but it's the location of most non-cancerous problems.

3. Continue by examining the vas (the sperm-carrying tube that runs up from your epididymis), which normally feels like a firm, movable, smooth tube.

4. Repeat the same procedure on your other testicle.

For More Information

Agency for Health Care Policy and Research

AHCPR offers a free copy of their Managing Cancer Pain.

Health Pages. Publication: The Young Man's Cancer. 1998.
(Online) http://www.thehealthpages.com/ar-testi.html

Both men and their female partners should familiarize themselves with the normal anatomical features of the testicle. Many testicular tumors (and breast cancer tumors BTW) are found by one's sexual partner.

If a lump is found or if one testicle is significantly harder than the other, you should visit a doctor immediately. The quicker you know, the better it will be for you in the long run.

My wife noticed the change in my testicle first. I noticed later. My wife estimates she noticed the change about 6 months before I was diagnosed, but we didn't know anything about testicular cancer. I was 19, and hardly on the lookout for cancer. I eventually went to the emergency room suffering SEVERE pain in my abdomen: this was later determined to be caused by metastasis displacing nerves and blood vessels near my spinal column. Don't wait that long: you may live through it, you don't want to ever experience pain like I did.

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