Testicular self-exam

A self-exam can help find testicular cancer at an early stage. Many times this cancer is found during self-exam as a painless lump or a swollen testicle.

Why It Is Done

Self-exam helps a man learn the normal size, shape, and weight of his testicles and the area around the scrotum. This helps him notice any changes from normal.

How It’s Done

To do a self-exam, stand and place your right foot on a chair or other surface about chair height. Then gently feel your scrotum until you locate the right testicle. Roll the testicle gently but firmly between your thumb and fingers of both hands. Check the surface carefully for lumps. The skin over the testicle moves freely, so it is easy to feel the whole surface of the testicle. Repeat the process on the other side. Lift your left leg and check your left testicle. Feel the whole surface of both testicles.

How It Feels

A self-exam does not cause pain or discomfort unless a testicle is swollen or tender. A lump that is cancer usually feels firm. But it probably will not be tender or painful when pressed.


o   Normal:

  • Each testicle feels firm but not hard. The surface is very smooth, without any lumps or bumps. The spongy, tube-shaped structure (epididymis) may be felt on the top and down the back side of each testicle. One testicle (usually the left) may hang a little lower than the other. One testicle may be a little larger than the other. This difference is usually normal.
  • There is no pain or discomfort during the exam.

o   Abnormal:

  • A small, hard lump (often about the size of a pea) is felt on the surface of the testicle, or the testicle is swollen. If you notice a lump or swelling during a self-exam, contact your doctor right away. This may be an early sign of testicular cancer. Prompt treatment gives the best chance for a cure.
  • One or both testicles are absent. If you cannot feel two testicles while performing a self-exam, contact your doctor. You may have an undescended testicle. If you cannot feel both testicles in your baby's scrotum, talk to his doctor.
  •  A soft bunch of thin tubes (often called a "bag of worms" or "spaghetti") is felt above or behind the testicle. This may mean there is an enlarged, twisted vein in the scrotum, called a varicocele.
  •  Sudden pain or swelling in the scrotum is noticed during the exam. This may mean an infection, such as epididymitis. Or it may mean blood flow to the testicle is blocked (testicular torsion). Either of these needs to be checked by a doctor right away.
  • A lump that is not attached to a testicle is floating in the scrotum.

Visit your doctor if you find any abnormal results