(MayoClinic.com) Testicular cancer is most common in men ages 20 to 35 — but it can occur at any age. A simple testicular self-examination can improve your chances of finding a tumor early. Beginning at age 15, it's a good idea to do a monthly testicular self-exam. Regular testicular self-exams are an important way to identify changes that can be a sign of cancer. Early diagnosis is important because testicular cancer is highly treatable when found early. Lumps or other changes found during a testicular self-exam aren't always a sign of cancer, but still need to be checked by a doctor.
It's a good idea to examine your testicles once a month, after a warm bath or shower. The heat from the water relaxes your scrotum, making it easier for you to check for anything unusual. To do a testicular self-exam, follow these steps:
You may notice a few things about your testicles that seem unusual — but aren't signs of cancer:
Lumps, swelling, testicular pain or other changes can be caused by something other than cancer — such as inflammation, enlargement of scrotal veins (varicocele), fluid around the testicle (hydrocele), or a hernia. But unusual signs or symptoms still need to be checked out by a doctor to be sure they aren't caused by cancer. Even if symptoms are caused by something other than testicular cancer, you may still need treatment.
If you have a retractile testicle, a condition in which your testicle doesn't descend from the groin into the scrotum, tell your doctor. You may need to see a urologist for treatment or a more specialized exam. Having a retractile testicle (also called an undescended testicle) increases your risk of testicular cancer. Surgical correction of an undescended testicle can reduce your risk.Why doing a regular testicular self-exam matters
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