Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is the commonest form of cancer in young men, usually affecting the 15 to 49 year old age group. There are approx 2000 new cases a year. Testicular cancer is a form of cancer that responds particularly well to treatment with over 90% of patients recovering from the condition. The earlier it is detected, the better the chances are of a complete recovery. Early detection is more likely if you examine your testicles regularly and report any changes promptly to your doctor.

Testicular self examination (TSE)

  • Perform TSE regularly on a monthly basis. Examination is best done in a warm bath or shower. The heat relaxes the skin of the scrotum, making examination of the testicles easier.
  • Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand and note the size and weight of your testicles. You may well notice that one testicle is a different size, or hangs slightly lower than the other. Don't worry, this is normal. But you should take notice of any distinct change in the size or weight in either testicle.
  • Examine each testicle in turn. Roll the testicle gently between your thumb and fingers. Don't press hard as this will be painful. The testicles should have a smooth surface. Check for lumps on the surface or within the body of the testicle. Be aware of the consistency of the testicle and take notice of any change in the firmness of the testicles.
  • It is common to mistake the epididymis for a lump. The epididymis is a sponge-like tube which stores and transports the sperm from the testicle. it lies along the back and the top of the testicle. When you are in a warm bath it can easily be differentiated from the testicle. Regular examination will make you aware of the normal appearances of your testicles, thus making it easier to detect any changes at an earlier stage.
  • It is very rare to develop testicular cancer in both testicles at the same time, so check one against the other if you are unsure whether one has changed or not.
  • Other warning signs include a general sensation of heaviness in the scrotum, or a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.
  • Less often, testicular cancer presents with a painful, swollen testicle but usually it is a painless swelling.
If you think you have noticed a change in one of your testicles, don't delay - get it checked out. It can make a real difference to the outcome. For more information on testicular cancer, see the Imperial Cancer Research web site. You can print off a downloadable leaflet on TSE. More information can be found on www.cancerbacup.org.uk

Further information

Imperial Cancer Research


This article published on
25 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013


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