Finding a lump down there is one of the most terrifying things a guy can experience. But if the lump really is testicular cancer, catching it early save the lives of their own lives.
Testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer, but your chances of beating it fell if it spreads before its diagnosed.
For example, 99 percent of men with localized testicular cancermeaning it hasnt spread from the testissurvive more than 5 years. But the rate drops-off to 74 percent once it spreads to distant organs, according to data from the National Cancer Institutes Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program( SEER ).
Heres how to be proactive about your own testicular health.
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Should You Perform Regular Testicular Self Exams?
Currently, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends against routine testicular self exams.
A big part of that is because they believe that guys might be unnecessarily stressed out by procuring things on the self quiz that they think are harmfulbut arent, tells Tobias Kohler, M.D ., a spokesperson for the American Urological Association and an assistant professor of urology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
Its possible that parts of your testicular anatomysay, your spermatic cord or epididymis, the tube that connects your testicle to your vas deferensmight feel bumpy enough to freak you out, but they are perfectly normal, tells Dr. Kohler.
At your next visit with medical doctors, asked about or her to point them out to you so you know what they feel like.
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Once you have these structures squared away, you should be able to pick up on any potentially problematic a difference in your testicles, tells Dr. Kohler.
Thats why many urology experts still believe its smart to check your balls.
In fact, Dr. Kohler and Mens Health urology advisor Larry Lipshultz, M.D ., both recommend you analyze your testicles once a month. Heres how to get started.
How Perform a Testicular Self Exam
The best place to give your testicles a once-over is in the rain.
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Thats because the warmth will relax your scrotum and make it easier for you to feel any abnormalities, tells Nicholas Cost, M.D ., a urologist and helper professor at the University of Colorado.
Start at the top of your left testicle. Hold it between your thumb and thumbs of both hands, and gently roll it between your thumbs as you move down. Repeat on the right side.
Be on the lookout for any hard clumps, smooth or rounded lumps, or unusual a difference in the sizing, shape, and consistency of your testicle, Dr. Cost tells.
You might not be able to feel a mass itself, but it could attain your testicle feel very firm.
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It can be scary to find something weird, but just know that not all irregularities you find on your self quiz point definitively to testicular cancer, tells Dr. Kohler.
For instance, if your testicles feel like what can only be described as a bag of worms, you might have varicoceles, or enlarged veins in your testicles.
You may also find innocuous lumps that are just cysts or research results of a testicular torsion, which is a pain situation where your testicle gets twisted and swells up.
Only your doctor can know for sure, though. So if you notice a lump or lump that seems different, abruptly appears, or only obsess you, schedule an appointment with your urologist right away.
Additional reporting by Paige Fowler, Joelle Smith, and Erin Weaver .
This article originally appeared on Menshealth.com .