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Definition of Testicular Self-Examination
A technique by which a man checks his testicles for lumps, pain, and other abnormalities as a means of early detection of testicular cancer and noncancerous conditions that may affect the testicles and a man’s fertility, such as varicocele and hydrocele.
The primary purpose of Testicular Self-Examination is to familiarize a man with the characteristics and anatomy of his testicles so he can detect changes that occur because it is these changes that may signal health conditions that require medical treatment.
Though the main intent of Testicular Self-Examination is early detection of testicular cancer, as mentioned, the technique also detects noncancerous conditions such as spermatocele, which can reduce fertility.
Health experts recommend Testicular Self-Examination monthly, such as on the first day of every month, and suggest doing TSE in the shower when the scrotum is relaxed and lowered and the hands are soapy. Testicular Self-Examination takes only a few minutes, following these steps:
- Cup the testicles in one hand to support them.
- Gently roll one testicle between the fingers, feeling for small lumps or unusual tenderness. The testicle should feel firm and smooth.
- Use the fingers to feel the cordlike structure that runs from top to bottom, along the back of the testicle, the epididymis, exploring for hard lumps or areas of unusual tenderness. The epididymis is a tightly coiled structure that should feel somewhat lumpy or ropelike.
- Use the fingers to feel the tubelike structure that runs from bottom to top along the side of the testicle, the vas deferens, checking for lumps or areas of unusual tenderness. The vas deferens should feel smooth and firm, and should move easily within the scrotum.
- Repeat for the other testicle.
A doctor should promptly evaluate any changes or unusual findings such as lumps. It is normal for the testicles to be somewhat different in size and for one to hang lower than the other within the scrotum.
Factors that increase a man’s risk for developing testicular cancer include undescended testicle (cryptorchism), even after treatment to correct it, and family or personal history of testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer is most common in men between the ages of 20 and 40, though can occur at any age. With early detection and treatment testicular cancer is highly treatable or curable, which is what makes Testicular Self-Examination so important.
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