Why should I examine my testes?
As testes are positioned in the scrotum, testicular examination is straightforward and easy. It takes just a couple of minutes for self-examination. Although testicular cancer is rare, it is one of the most common cancers in young men (16-32 years). Its cure rates are high if treated early. Because of their position it is easy to feel the testes.
The best time to examine testes is when the scrotal skin and testes are relaxed usually after a hot bath or shower. Before the physical examination stand in front of a mirror with legs slightly apart to see whether there is anything unusual in their appearance (e.g. swelling). It is quite normal for one testis to be slightly larger than the other and left testis usually hangs lower than the right.
How do I examine my testicles?
Use both hands and gently feel each testis separately one at a time. The testicle is held between the thumb and two to three fingers. Feel for the epididymis, a cord like tubular structure at the back of the testis. Normally testis has a smooth surface and feels firm in consistency.
What are the signs I should look for?
You should look for feeling of any heaviness in scrotum, painless testicles swelling, a dull ache in the groin or lower abdomen, low pain in the testis or scrotum, any lumps, hard surface on the testis. Sometimes the testis may be absent in the scrotum because it has failed to descend into the scrotum. Presence of any of these findings does not mean that you have testicular cancer- but an indication that you should take this forward with your doctor.
What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?
Apart from swelling of the testis there are other signs which can indicate that some thing is not right- weight loss, night sweats, breast tenderness, difficulty in breathing, lumps in the neck (see testicular cancer).
Who is likely to get testicular cancer?
- Men with undescended testis
- Men with small testes
- Men whose father or brother had testicular cancer
- Men who had operation for undescended testis
What is to be done if you are worried?
Do not feel embarrassed about your anxiety and symptoms; Discuss this with your doctor and get an opinion. If he is worried he is likely to refer you to see a Urological Surgeon or may arrange an ultrasound scan.
Mr Vinod Nargund is a Consultant Urological Surgeon specialising in Urological cancer, male sexual and fertility problems. He was trained in Urology at the City Hospital Belfast, the Royal Infirmary Bradford and the Churchill and John Radcliffe Hospitals in Oxford. You can view all of his qualifications on his biography page.