Testicular Cancer Self Exam

Testicular cancer occurs when abnormal cells in one or both of the testicles begin to divide and change at a faster than normal rate. Sometimes, instead of dying off like normal cells do when they divide, these abnormal cells begin to clump together, which is what forms a tumor.

If the tumors are benign, they are not harmful and will not spread to other parts of the body. However, if they are malignant they are harmful and may kill healthy cells in the body and spread to other locations in the body to form more tumors.

Testicular Cancer Risk Factors

Men who have risk factors for testicular cancer should be especially aware of the disease and should do regular self-exams. Most men who develop testicular cancer are between 15 and 34 years old. Other risk factors include:

  • being Caucasian
  • having abnormally small or abnormally shaped testicles
  • having a family member who has had testicular cancer, particularly a father or a brother
  • having a testicle that has not come down into the scrotum
  • having Klinefelter’s syndrome, a genetic disease that causes men to have an extra X chromosome in most of their cells.

The Testicular Self-Exam

Because warm water relaxes the skin on the scrotum, doing the testicular self-exam in the shower or bath, or directly afterward, is easiest.

Take the following steps at least once a month to check for signs of testicular cancer:

  1. Using one hand or both hands, check the testicles one at a time.
  2. Cup the scrotum in one hand to see if it feels how it normally does.
  3. Place your thumb on top of one testicle and your index and middle fingers underneath the testicle and then gently roll the testicle between the fingers.
  4. Repeat step 3 for the other testicle.
  5. Gently feel for any lumps on the side of the testicle.
  6. Repeat step 5 for the other testicle.
  7. Feel behind each testicle for swelling.

If you are still confused or need more instruction on how to perform a testicular cancer self-exam, your doctor can give you information, a brochure or even a demonstration of the procedure. During routine exams, your doctor will most likely do a testicular exam, but in between doctor visits it’s still a good idea to do periodic self-exams.

Signs and Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

When testicular cancer is detected early, treatment is the most effective and the disease is far easier to overcome.

Signs of testicular cancer to look for during self-exams or simply to look out for on a day-to-day basis include:

  • a feeling of pain or a dull ache in the scrotum
  • hard lumps in the testicle, most often painless
  • scrotum that feels bigger or heavier than it normally does
  • tender tissue or swelling of the breast/chest area.

See a doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms. Finding out if you have testicular cancer early on is the best way to ensure that your testicular cancer will be cured.





Familydoctor.org (1999-2007). Retrieved June 22, 2007, from the familydoctor.org Web site: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/cancer/types/387.html.

Beers, M. H.