Just as it’s recommended that women check their breasts on a monthly basis, men should also be performing a self-examination on a regular basis. It’s worth noting testicular tumours mainly affect men aged 20-40 and are very rare over the age of 50.
Ideally checks should be performed from puberty onwards, but if you have never ‘checked your chaps’ it’s not too late to start. Doing this five-minute testicle check on a regular basis can help you become familiar with your body and recognise any changes sooner.
To perform the exam, stand nude in front of a mirror after a warm bath or shower.
- Check for swelling; hold the penis out of the way and look at the skin of the scrotum. You may see bumps which may not seem usual but these are not necessarily a sign of cancer. Bumps can be caused by in-grown hairs, rashes or other skin-related problems.
- Roll each testicle; using your thumb and forefingers, gently roll each testicle in turn, looking and feeling for any changes. These include lumps, bumps, changes in shape or size and any dull pain or heaviness.
- Check again; make sure you ‘check your chaps’ on a regular basis. Add a monthly reminder in your diary, phone or calendar to give you a nudge.
At the back of your testicles you may also feel a softer, bumpier tissue which feels different to the testicle it’s attached to. These tubes are called the epididymis and are a normal part of the male reproductive system. They can easily be mistaken for an unusual mass, if you are unfamiliar with them.
If you do find anything unusual, seek medical advice promptly but do bear in mind that the majority of changes in the testicles are caused by injury, infection, cysts, hernias or noncancerous conditions.
By Steve Garnett, Consultant Urologist
Published on 15 June 2020