How to check for testicular cancer

Regularly checking your testicles from puberty can help find a testicular cancer earlier, when it is easier to treat.

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How do I check for testicular cancer?

From puberty onwards, it is important to check your testicles regularly. Testicular cancer is usually always cured but it is easier to treat when it is diagnosed early.

Checking for testicular cancer is sometimes called testicular self-examination. Doing this regularly means you soon get to know what feels normal for you. A normal testicle should feel smooth and firm, but not hard.

Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand. Use your fingers and thumb to examine each testicle. You should feel for:

  • lumps or swellings
  • anything unusual
  • differences between your testicles.

It is normal for the testicles to be slightly different in size. It is also normal for one to hang lower than the other.

The epididymis (tube that carries sperm) is behind the top of each testicle. It feels like a soft, coiled tube. It is common to get harmless cysts or benign lumps in the epididymis. Treatment for these may vary.

Other conditions can cause lumps or swellings, and most lumps are not cancer. But it is important you get your doctor to check anything unusual as soon as possible.

Testicular self-examination

When is the best time to check your testicles?

The best time to check your testicles is during, or right after, a warm bath or shower. This is when the scrotal skin is relaxed.

What are the signs of testicular cancer

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump in a testicle. There may also be other symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • a swelling or a lump in a testicle, which is usually painless, but may suddenly get bigger and become painful
  • a dull ache or pain, or feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.

Going to the GP

Doctors are used to dealing with problems like this.

If you feel embarrassed about seeing your GP, you can go to your local sexual health clinic.

You can find your nearest clinic on the NHS Choices website. Or you can look in the health section of your local phone book.