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Testicular self-exam

Screening - testicular cancer - self-exam; Testicular cancer - screening - self-exam

Testicular self-exam is an examination of the testicles that you do on yourself.

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Male reproductive anatomy
Testicular anatomy

How the Test is Performed

The testicles (also called the testes) are the male reproductive organs that produce sperm and the hormone testosterone. They are located in the scrotum under the penis.

You can do this test during or after a shower. This way, the scrotal skin is warm and relaxed. It is best to do the test while standing.

Why the Test is Performed

A testicular self-exam is done to check for testicular cancer.

Testicles have blood vessels and other structures that can make the exam confusing. If you notice any lumps or changes in a testicle, contact your health care provider right away.

Your provider may recommend that you do a testicular self-exam every month if you have any of the following risk factors:

However, if a man has no risk factors or symptoms, experts do not know if doing testicular self-exam lowers the chance of dying of this cancer.

Normal Results

Each testicle should feel firm, but not rock hard. One testicle may be lower or slightly larger than the other.

Talk to your provider if you have questions.

What Abnormal Results Mean

If you find a small, hard lump (like a pea), have an enlarged testicle, or notice any other differences that do not seem normal, see your provider right away.

Call your provider if:

Sudden, severe (acute) pain in the scrotum or testicle that lasts for more than a few minutes is an emergency. If you have this type of pain, seek medical attention right away.

A lump in the testicle is often the first sign of testicular cancer. If you find a lump, see a provider right away. Most testicular cancers are very treatable. Keep in mind that some cases of testicular cancer do not show symptoms until they reach an advanced stage.

Risks

There are no risks with this self-exam.

Related Information

Testes
Testosterone
Undescended testicle
Testicular cancer
Varicocele
Hydrocele

References

American Cancer Society website. Can testicular cancer be found early? www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/detection.html. Updated May 17, 2018. Accessed August 22, 2019.

Friedlander TW, Small E. Testicular cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 83.

National Cancer Institute website. Testicular cancer screening (PDQ) – health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/testicular/hp/testicular-screening-pdq. Updated March 6, 2019. Accessed August 22, 2019.

US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for testicular cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2011;154(7):483-486. PMID: 21464350 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21464350.

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Review Date: 7/31/2019  

Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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