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A man examines his testicles.
Testicular self-examination is a medical practice by which external feeling of the testicles can act as a first-warning for testicular cancer.
Procedure and Diagnosis
Men from puberty onwards should examine their testes after a hot shower or bath, when the scrotum is looser, and while standing. They should first examine each testicle separately, feeling for lumps, and then compare them to see whether one is larger than the other. By doing this each month, males will become familiar with what is normal for them.
Their testicles should be examined by a doctor if they notice any of the following:
- a lump in one testicle
- pain or tenderness in the testicles, then, later, in the scrotum, penis, and near the inguinal (groin area) lymph nodes and in the thighs; in distant metastatic illness, in the back or chest (usually pain is seen later in the course of the cancer)
- blood in semen during ejaculation (a small amount once is not necessarily cause for worry and rarely is caused by testicular cancer; when it does occur it may be later in the course of the cancer or may occur if a blood vessel has been injured) or blood in the urine (hematuria, which is nearly always pathological and should be investigated by a doctor in any event)
- build-up of fluid in the scrotum
- a change in the size of one testicle or the relative sizes of the two (but it is normal for one testicle to be (and stay) slightly larger than the other, and for one to hang slightly lower than the other)
Some symptoms of testicular cancer (which is usually painless, however, in the early stages are common to other disorders of the male urinary tract and reproductive organs, which may also need medical attention from a doctor. These include hydrocele testis, a varicocele, a spermatocele, other genitourinary cancers, urinary tract infections or sexually transmitted infections, or testicular torsion. These are all conditions that should be investigated by a doctor; some of these disorders need quick treatment to preserve reproductive and urinary function and one's health and life.
Evidence and Practice
Practitioners may recommend self-exam if you have risk factors:
Some expert organizations, recommend self-exam if you are a teenager or young adult (to about 35 years old).
- There is no medical consensus.
It is not clear that self-exam with no presenting symptoms would decrease risk of dying from testicular cancer.
Testicular self-examination has generally low rates of practice in part because males are poorly informed, but also because of psychological aversion. Comparatively woman are more diligent in performing breast self-examination than men. A person's likeliness to perform self-examination is related to their fear of developing cancer. In addition to sex there is some reason to believe that socioeconomic factors also relate to frequency of examination.
Sometimes, if a young adult male has a spouse or partner, they will perform or assist in the exam, which then may be done also as a form of sex play and/or foreplay. Detection, treatment, and cure rates of male genitourinary disorders, like other male health problems, are higher if both the young adult male and his spouse or partner are actively involved in the process (their spouses or partners often are the ones that spot the disorder, and then convince their male spouse or partner to get it treated, when it may not have been discovered and dealt with without them).
- self-exam on MedlinePlus
- "Testicular Cancer Self Examination". The Institute of Cancer Research. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
- "Testicular self-examination". U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
- Rudberg, Lennart MSc, RN, RNT†; Nilsson, Sten, MD; Wikblad, Karin, BM, RN; Carlsson, Marianne (July–August 2005). "Testicular Cancer and Testicular Self-examination: Knowledge and Attitudes of Adolescent Swedish Men". Cancer Nursing 28 (4): 256–262.
- Katz, Roger C.; Meyers, Kelly; Walls, Jennifer (March 1995). "Cancer awareness and self-examination practices in young men and women". Journal of Behavioral Medicine 18 (4): 377–384. doi:10.1007/BF01857661.
- Wynd, Christine A. (September 2002). "Testicular Self-Examination in Young Adult Men". Journal of Nursing Scholarship 34 (3): 251–255. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2002.00251.x.