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Testicular cancer – self examination

publication date: Jun 14, 2013
author/source: Dr Simon Chowdhury

Dr Simon Chowdhury, London Bridge HospitalTesticular cancer is the most common cancer of young men and yet this is the age group that probably needs the most encouragement to check their testicles regularly. Testicular Self Examination (TSE) is a simple and effective way for men to recognise the early signs and symptoms of testicular cancer and enables men to know what's normal for them and when they may have found something that they should go and get checked."

Men should check their testicles at least once a month after a warm bath or shower, as the heat causes the scrotum to relax making it easier to find anything unusual. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump or swelling in one testicle and although it is important to remember that most testicular lumps are not cancer, if you do find something unusual you should consult your GP.

When carrying out self-examination I suggest the following four steps:

  1. Hold both testicles in the palm of your hand to compare for equal heaviness. (Note: It is quite normal for one testicle to be larger or hang down lower than the other)
  2. Using the thumb and forefinger, roll each testicle to check for any small, hard lumps or slight enlargement or firmness of the testicle.
  3. If you feel comfortable, perhaps ask your partner to check your testicles, as they may be more likely to identify a problem in the future and encourage you to do something about it.
  4. If you find a lump or something that seems out of the ordinary for you, make an appointment to consult your GP.

Whilst a lump in the testicle is considered the most common symptom of testicular cancer, additional symptoms can include:

  • Any enlargement of a testicle
  • A significant loss of size in one of the testicles
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the pectoral region

Whilst these signs are not exclusive of testicular cancer, if you find anything unusual get it checked by your GP as the possibility of it being testicular cancer needs to be ruled out. Don't delay as in rare circumstances some types of testicular cancer can progress quickly."

Dr Simon Chowdhury, Consultant Medical Oncologist at London Bridge Hospital, specialises in the treatment of testicular and urological (prostate, bladder and kidney) cancers.