Testicular self-examination

Testicular self-examination is one of the most important steps to take in detecting the early signs of testicular cancer. As the most common form of cancer in men ages 15-35, testicular cancer may be caught early through a monthlyself-examination and an increased awareness of the symptoms of the disease. Testicular cancer, when detected in its early stages is highly curable.

The most effective time to perform a testicular self-examination is after a warm bath or shower when the scrotum is relaxed from the heat. Begin by standing in front of a mirror to look for any changes or swelling on the skin of the scrotum. Using both hands, examine each testicle by placing the index and middle fingers under the testicle with the thumbs placed on top. Gently roll the testicle between the thumbs and fingers. One testicle may appear slightlylarger than the other. This is normal. At this point, locate the epididymis,which is the soft, tubelike structure behind the testicle responsible for collecting and distributing sperm. It is important to become familiar with the epididymis so as not to identify it as a suspicious lump. The spermatic cord branches up from the epididymis and can be checked for abnormalities by a gentle squeezing beginning above the right testicle, with the cord between the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand.

During each monthly self-examination, look for symptoms of testicular cancer,which include a small, painless lump in the testicle; a sensation of heaviness in the scrotum; a dull throb in the lower abdomen or groin; a distinct change in the way a testicle feels; or an abrupt collection of fluid in the scrotum. Typically appearing in the form of a small painless pea-size lump, cancerous lumps are usually found on the sides or front of the testicle.

If a suspicious lump or any other changes are found during a self-examination, it is important to see a doctor immediately. While the symptoms may not becancerous, it is important to be examined to determine an early diagnosis ofthe disease and begin proper treatment if needed.

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