Patient Services: Testicular Exams and Self-Exams
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men aged 20-34. If testicular cancer is found and treated early, it is usually curable. An examination of the genitals is an important part of a routine physical examination for every boy and man, regardless of age. An exam includes a complete physical examination of the groin and genital organs (penis, scrotum and testicles) by your health professional. A health care professional will feel the organs and examine them for the presence of swelling, shrinking, lumps, or other visual signs of an abnormality. Testicular exams can detect the causes of pain, inflammation, swelling, congenital abnormalities, and lumps or masses that may indicate testicular cancer.
Testicular self-exams are very important, and can be done in three simple steps.
Step 1: Move your penis out of the way and look at your testicles in a mirror. Make sure that each of your testicles is about the same size as the other and check for any swelling or bumps. It is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other.
Step 2: Hold one testicle with your index finger and middle fingers underneath and your thumb on top. The testicle is normally oval, smooth and firm. Feel for lumps by rolling it gently between your thumb and fingers while noting any changes in size, shape or feel. Make sure to examine the epididymis—a soft, tightly coiled tube in which sperm mature—along the top and back of each testicle. It may feel bumpier than the testicle. Also feel the spaghetti-like tube called the vas deferens that goes up from the epididymis. The vas deferens should feel like a smooth cord.
Step 3: Repeat the exam on your other testicle. You should perform a testicular self-exam at least once a month.
While at your appointment for an STI screening, a PPIN clinician can answer any questions or concerns you may have about testicular self-exams. Call (800) 230-PLAN or locate a health center to make an appointment.