Return to Index
Testicular Self-Exam (TSE)
A testicular self-exam is a way for men to notice any changes, lumps, or abnormalities in their testicles. These changes may be a sign of testicular cancer. Since the benefits are not clear, many professional organizations, including the American Cancer Society do not make specific recommendations about regular testicular self-exams for all men.
In most cases, you will have a testicular exam during regular check-ups (generally every 1-3 years). Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of monthly self-exams. You may be advised to do monthy self-exams if you are considered at high risk for testicular cancer.
You may be considered high-risk if you have:
- Undescended testicle(s)
- A family member with testicular cancer
- A history of testicular cancer
If your doctor recommends doing monthly self-exams, follow the steps below.
Steps for a Testicular Self-exam
- To make it easier to remember, select some specific day (such as the first day of the month) when you will routinely perform this exam.
- It is easier to do the exam while standing up after a warm bath or shower. The warmth makes the skin of the scrotum soft and relaxed, so it is easier to examine the testicular surface underneath it.
- Take extra time on your first self-exam to find out how your testicles feel normally. For example, the back surface contains the epididymis, which stores sperm from the testicles. It feels like a small bump on the side of the testis, which might be mistaken for an abnormal growth if you are unaware of the area.
- Hold each testis in your hand, feeling whether its size or weight have changed since your last self-exam.
- Look at your scrotum to see if there are any changes.
- Hold an individual testis in both hands and roll it slowly with the thumb and fingers of your hand, feeling for small lumps or areas of soreness. The most common first finding of testicular cancer is a small, firm lump attached to the testis.
If you notice any changes, lumps, or other abnormalities, see your doctor right away.
In addition, if you feel aching in the lower abdomen or groin, or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, tell your doctor. This may be a warning sign of cancer.
American Cancer Society
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Goldenring JM. Equal time for men: teaching testicular self-examination [editorial]. J Adolesc Health Care. 1986;7:273.
Rovito MJ, Gordon TF, et al. Perceptions of testicular cancer and testicular self-examination among college men: A report on intention, vulnerability, and promotional material preferences. Am J Mens Health. 2011;5(6):500-507.
Management of seminoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T908524/Management-of-seminoma. Updated April 8, 2016. Accessed December 30, 2016.
Shaw J. Diagnosis and treatment of testicular cancer. Am Fam Physician. 2008;77(4):469-474.
Testicular cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003142-pdf.pdf. Updated February 12, 2016. Accessed December 30, 2016.
Zoltick BH. Shedding light on testicular cancer. Nurse Pract. 2011;36(7):32-39.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2016
- Update Date: 01/06/2015