Although testicular cancer is rare, it is the most common solid tumor in young men. It is also one of the most highly curable cancers, especially when detected early. Testicular self-examination has not been extensively studied, but most physicians recommend that men eighteen to thirty-five years old perform it monthly. Testicular self-examination is best performed after a warm shower when the scrotal skin is looser. The fingertips are used to slowly palpate the entire surface of each testicle for lumps. A tumor is usually painless when squeezed and feels like a rock emanating from within the testicle. This should not be confused with the epididymis, which is a comma-shaped structure that runs alongside each testicle and contains tubes that carry sperm. Most scrotal abnormalities detected by healthy men do not turn out to be cancer, but they must be checked by a primary-care physician or a urologist.
MARK S. LITWIN