Testicular Cancer is the most common cancer in young men (ages 15-34). When it's found early, it's one of the most treatable and curable forms of cancer. The Testicular Self-Exam is a way to check for things that are not normal. Doing it can help your chances of catching testicular cancer early.
Boys can start these exams in their teens. It only takes a few minutes and should be done once a month. The best time to start the self-exam is during, or right after, a hot bath or shower, when the scrotal skin is most relaxed and the testicles can be felt more easily.
Do the exam while standing. You should gently feel the scrotal sac to find a testicle. Look for swelling in the scrotum. Check each testicle one at a time. Check it by rolling the testicle between the thumb and fingers of both hands to feel the whole surface.
You should be gentle, but also firm. This will help you find any small (pea-size) hard lumps. Tell your health care provider if you feel any lumps, swelling, pain or soreness. You should also let your provider know if there are any other changes that you notice.
It's normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other. It's also normal to feel a cord-like structure (called the epididymis) on the top and back of each testicle.
Dr. Vitaly Margulis is Associate Professor of Urology at University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He is a member of the Urology Care Foundation's Public Education Council.