Testicles are roughly the same size, but like breasts, one is often slightly bigger than the other and may hang slightly lower than the other one. The testicles are two small oval shaped organs contained in a man’s scrotum, a sack of skin which is situated below the penis. On examination, testicles should feel smooth but firm without any lumps or bumps and you may be able to feel a tube like structure called the epidydimus attached to the back of each testicle.
Testicular self examination (TSE) is a quick and easy way to make sure that there are not any unusual lumps, bumps or changes in skin texture that should not be there. These can often be the first sign of testicular cancer but may be a symptom of non cancerous conditions that can occur within the testicles.
Although testicular cancer is rare in teenagers, it is the most common cancer in men between 15-35 years, therefore it is important to make TSE a regular part of your life. Check each month for signs of abnormalities, many of which can be treated quickly if detected early enough. Knowing what feels normal for you will enable you to quickly detect if something is abnormal and seek medical advice as soon as possible.
How to do a testicular self-examination
The best time to perform a TSE is after having a shower or bath as the warmth of the water makes the scrotum relax, making it easier to examine the testicles. Examine one testicle at a time by using both hands to gently roll each testicle between your fingers. By placing your thumbs over the top of your testicles and putting your index and middle fingers behind each testicle, you can roll it between your fingers.
Using this technique, you should be able to feel the epidydimus (the sperm carrying tube) located at the top of the back part of each testicle, which feels soft, rope-like and slightly tender when pressed.
You need to be feeling for any lumps, bumps or changes in the way your testicles feel. Lumps may be as small as a grain of rice or pea.
You can check your penis for any skin changes, lumps, bumps, discharge too.
If you do notice any lumps, swellings, pains or aches or changes in the size of colour of a testicle, seek medical advice. Not all abnormalities are cancer, so do not be frightened of letting your doctor know as soon as possible. Do not be embarrassed about seeking advice your doctor will have seen more embarrassing problems than a testicular lump. If your GP is female, you can always request to be seen by a male doctor if that will be less embarrassing.
Testicular cancer, when caught and treated early, is almost always curable – so make TSE a monthly part of your life and prevent anything from happening before it has a chance to begin.
Useful Websites and charities
Baggy trousers UK : WWW.baggytrousersuk.org
Testicular Cancer UK : @TesticularCuk
Testicular Cancer UK : www.checkemlads.com
Orchid Male Cancer : www.orchid-cancer.org.uk
Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation : www.testicularcancerawarenessfoundation.org