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Cancer Health Center

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Testicular Cancer: Self-Exams at Home

Recognizing the Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

Most testicular cancers are discovered by the men who have them. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless mass (lump) in one testicle. Other symptoms to look for:

  • Testicular discomfort, pain or swelling.
  • Any change in size or the usual "feel" of the testicle
  • A sensation of heaviness in the scrotum
  • Dull aching in the abdomen, back, or groin

If you have any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately.

Testicular Cancer: Delay Can Be Dangerous

Many men delay seeking a doctor's evaluation after first noticing the symptoms of testicular cancer.

"There's often a significant lag time, sometimes a very long time, between the first symptoms and when men come in," says Brooks.

"And that's sad," says Pagliaro, because "their chance of cure is not as good as it could be."

In one study, most men with a delayed diagnosis of testicular cancer gave one of several reasons for the delay:

  • They were unaware of the symptoms of testicular cancer;
  • They were afraid that their testicular swelling was due to a sexually transmitted infection, or
  • They were too embarrassed to seek medical attention.

"These are often teenagers or young men with plenty of other things going on in their lives," adds Pagliaro. "For us, it's about educating them about the possibility [of testicular cancer] and the need to see a doctor immediately" if symptoms are present, he adds.

Testicular Cancer: How to Perform a Testicular Self-Exam

Perform the exam after taking a warm shower, so the scrotal skin is more relaxed.

  1. Locate the testicle in the scrotal sac.
  2. Hold the testicle gently but firmly and roll it between your fingers. You should feel the entire surface of the testicle.
  3. Examine one testicle, then the other.

No official guidelines suggest how frequently you should perform testicular cancer self-exams, although some physicians recommend once a month.

If you do feel something abnormal on a testicular cancer self-exam, don't wait--let your doctor know!

Testicular Cancer: Diagnosis

Simple tests at a physician's office can quickly and accurately determine if testicular cancer is likely.

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