Cancer of the testis is one of the most common types of cancer in men 15 to 34 years old and most are found by young men themselves. It is important to start performing self-examination of the testes and to do it regularly once a month for the rest of his life. The aim is not sexual stimulation, but to systematically feel (palpate) the testes for any changes in size, consistency or lumps and to respond accordingly.
By performing a regular self-examination of the testes you significantly increase your chance of finding testicular cancer early if it does occur. Learn what they feel like, so you will be able to know when there is an abnormal lump. Also, be aware of the sensation of your testes and if you have a dull pain in your groin that doesn’t go away or your testicles feel heavy, like they are dragging, go and see your doctor even if you feel no lumps.
The examination is best performed after a warm bath or shower when the scrotal skin is most relaxed. The testicles hang in the scrotum, and are about the same size, but the left testicle usually hangs down a little more in the scrotum. A rope-like structure called the spermatic cord runs from your scrotum up into your groin.
1. Roll each testicle gently between the thumb and first two fingers of both hands at the same time. This way you always have the other side for comparison if something feels different from what you are used to. You can also easily detect when one testicle that gets larger than the other.
2. Feel for the small, comma-shaped cord, about the size of a pea, which is attached at the back of each testicle. This is a natural part of your testicles, and is called the epididymis.
3. Check each testicle and epididymis for lumps and if you find a lump see your doctor about it right away. Remember that not all lumps are cancerous but only a doctor will be able to make the decision.
NB: WHEN YOU DEVELOP SUDDEN PAIN IN A TESTIS, GO TO YOUR DOCTOR OR CLINIC IMMEDIATLEY.
By Prof Riana Bornman (MB ChB, DSc Physiology, MD Physiology)