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What should I look for during a testicular self-examination (TSE)?

Jesse N. Mills, MD
Urology
The testicles are normally oval shaped and smooth. Each one is easily accessible and can easily be felt.  The best place for a man to do a self-testicular exam (TSE) is in the shower. Most doctors recommend doing so every month. You want to be able to feel both testicles. They should be smooth and firm. If one is too firm or your notice any area that is a little bit lumpy or bumpy, you need to go see a doctor right away.

The great news about testicular cancer is that it is very curable in its early stages. However, most testicular cancers grow very fast. So, if you feel a lump, the next day that lump might be bigger, and the next day it might be bigger. In a week, it's going to be double the size, and in a month, it could have already spread. Early detection is important. Every month in the shower, know your junk. Make sure you can feel the testicle. Make sure that it feels the same as it did the last month. If you want to do it more frequently, that's entirely up to you.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Early detection of testicular cancer increases a man’s chance of survival by 90% -- that’s right, 90%. It’s especially important for caucasian men under 40 because they are at the greatest risk. And guess what? A doctor’s visit isn’t necessary. Men simply need to take a few minutes at home once a year to conduct their own exams. Their partners even can help.

Here’s how:

  • Slowly roll each testicle between your thumb and fingers one at a time, gently feeling all over for any lumps or hardness. Normal testicles should feel soft. Cancer may feel like a knuckle or a small, hard bean.
  • Make sure that neither testicle has grown smaller since your last check. The testicle should be about an inch and a half long (don’t worry, a ruler isn’t needed; just put two fingers together, lining up the fingernails, and compare that width to your testicle width). Testicles smaller than that could indicate a higher risk for testicular cancer.
  • If a lump or abnormality is detected, schedule a doctor’s appointment right away.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.