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testicular self-examination

Alternative Names 

The testicular self-examination is a way to screen for testicular cancer early when it is easiest to cure. During this test, a man examines each of his testicles for abnormal lumps. It should be done regularly because testicular cancer has few obvious symptoms.

Who is a candidate for the test? 
All men who have already undergone puberty should perform a testicular self-examination every month. A male whose testes didn't descend into the scrotum by age 3 has a greater risk of testicular cancer.

How is the test performed? 
A testicular self-examination (TSE) is done at home. To do a TSE, a man should raise his right leg and rest the foot on a chair. By gently moving the right testicle between the thumb and fingers of one hand he should feel for any lumps on its surface. He should then switch to his left foot on the chair and repeat these actions on the left testicle.

A man should report any abnormalities, including lumps or an enlarged testicle, to his doctor right away.

What is involved in preparation for the test? 
A TSE works best after a warm shower, which loosens up the muscles of the scrotum. That allows easier manipulation of the testicles.

What do the test results mean? 
Normally, a testicle feels firm and consistent, and its surface is smooth. One testicle may be slightly larger and hang lower than the other.

An unusually enlarged testicle or a small, hard lump on the surface of a testicle may be a sign of testicular cancer. A doctor should be consulted right away.

Author: David T. Moran, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 6/06/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

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