The testicular self-examination (TSE) is an easy way for guys to check their own testicles to make sure there aren't any unusual lumps or bumps — which can be the first sign of testicular cancer.
Although testicular cancer is rare in teenage guys, overall it is the most common cancer in males between the ages of 15 and 35. It's important to try to do a TSE every month so you can become familiar with the normal size and shape of your testicles, making it easier to tell if something feels different or abnormal in the future.
Most testicular cancers can be found at an early stage. In some men, early testicular cancers cause symptoms that make them seek medical attention. Most of the time a lump on the testicle is the first symptom. Sometimes the testicle is swollen or larger than normal without a lump. But some men don’t realize that something is wrong until the cancer has grown quite large and/or has spread.
Most doctors agree that checking a man’s testicles should be part of a general physical exam. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a testicular exam by a doctor as part of a routine cancer-related check-up.
The ACS advises men to be aware of testicular cancer and to see a doctor right away if they find a lump on a testicle. Regular testicular self-exams have not been studied enough to show if they lower the risk of dying from this cancer. This is why the ACS does not have a recommendation about regular testicular self-exams for all men. Still, some doctors recommend that all men examine their testicles monthly after puberty.
Men with risk factors, such as an undescended testicle, previous testicular cancer, or a family member who has had this cancer should seriously think about monthly self-exams. If you have risk factors, talk it over with a doctor. Each man has to decide for himself whether to examine his testicles each month.