How does a self-exam work?
Here’s what you should know about testicular self-exams:
- Perform them in the shower, when the skin on the testes relaxes.
- Gently roll each testicle between your thumb and fingers.
- Feel for hard or smooth, round lumps.
- Watch for any change in the size or shape of the testicles over time.
Remember that it’s normal to have testicles that are not exactly the same size. It’s also important to know that the epididymis (a small, coiled tube in the testicle) may cause a bump on the outside of the testicle.
If you do regular self-exams, you will become aware of what is normal for your body. Then you’ll be more likely to notice if something changes or seems out of the ordinary.
What you should know about treatment
If you find a testicular lump, see your doctor right away. He or she will do an ultrasound and possibly blood tests to determine whether or not it is cancer and, if so, the stage of the tumor.
The affected testicle is almost always removed. Chemotherapy is likely after surgery. Your doctor also may order a CT scan of the chest and abdomen to make sure the cancer hasn’t metastasized.
The good news is that losing a testicle won’t affect your fertility or testosterone levels. You can also get a prosthetic testicle as a replacement, if you choose to do so.
The key is that monthly self-exams can help you catch a problem early. Then you can deal with it before it spreads and is harder to control.
The few minutes it takes for the self-exam each month is a small price to pay for an early diagnosis.