According to the National Cancer Institute, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men ages 15-34. As is true for most cancers, it is important to catch and treat the cancer early. The best way to do this is through regular self-exams.
Typically, the first signs of testicular cancer are unusual bumps or lumps. Testicular self-exams teach teen boys how their testicles normally feel, making it easier to notice any changes. Here is what they need to do:
- It’s best to do the screening during or after a hot shower.
- Hold the penis out of the way to examine one testicle at a time.
- Take both hands and gently roll each testicle (with slight pressure) between the thumbs and fingers.
- Feel for hard lumps or smooth rounded bumps along the front or sides, which may be as small as a piece of rice or a pea.
- The epididymis (the sperm-carrying tube) located at the top of the back part of each testicle is a normal bump that feels soft and slightly tender.
- Also check for any change in the size, shape, color, or consistency of the testicles.
Self-exams should be done about once a month at during or after a warm shower because this is when the skin of the scrotum is most relaxed. Also, boys should be aware that it’s normal for one testicle to be slightly larger and/or hang lower than the other.
If anything abnormal is found during the self-exam, a doctor should be seen right away. It could be nothing or a variety of other causes like swelling of the veins, an infection or a hernia. But, if it is testicular cancer, early diagnosis is the best chance for a cure.