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Testicular Self-Exam (TSE)

Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 35. Most cases affect men under 55. It usually shows up as a painless lump in the testicle. The good news is that a simple monthly self-exam may help find trouble before it gets serious. When detected early, testicular cancer is almost 100% curable.

Doing your TSE

Do a TSE once a month, during or after a warm shower. The warm shower helps the scrotum relax. This makes the exam easier to do. Spend about 3 to 5 minutes feeling for lumps, firm areas, or changes. If you do find a problem, don’t panic. Call your healthcare provider and make an appointment.

Check the testicles

Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand. Roll each testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers of both hands. Feel for changes in each testicle, one at a time.

Closeup of hands checking testicle during testicular self-exam.

Check the epididymis

The epididymis is a raised, rim-like structure responsible for storing sperm. It runs along the top and back of each testicle and often hurts when you press on it. Gently feel each epididymis for changes. A spermatocele is a cyst filled with fluid. It may be felt on or near the epididymis or testicle. Most often, spermatoceles are painless and not cancerous.

Closeup of hands checking epididymis during testicular self-exam.

Check the vas deferens

The vas deferens is a little tube that runs up from the top of each testicle. A normal vas deferens feels like a firm piece of cooked spaghetti. Feel for changes above each testicle.

Closeup of hands checking vas during testicular self-exam.

Professional screening

If you feel anything that doesn't seem normal, tell your healthcare provider right away. In addition to doing your own TSE, you should also see your healthcare provider for regular checkups.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Marc Greenstein MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2022
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