How to Perform a Self Exam for Testicular Cancer
It’s even more fun with a friend!
As I wrote here last week, Deaconess Hospital is asking men across the tri-state to participate in “No Shave November” in an effort to raise awareness for “male-exclusive ” cancers such as prostate and testicular. I decided that despite genetics being against me that I would participate. The results of which should be interesting to say the least.
When it comes to the various types of cancer, it seems that here in the Evansville-Henderson area, breast cancer gets the most attention. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, any awareness that can raise funds toward a cure for any type of cancer is always a good thing. But, you don’t seem to hear much about cancers that affect men exclusively (although prostate cancer seems to get a good bit of attention). The time has come to change that.
According to the Deaconess Hospital website, Testicular Cancer (TC) is the most common form of cancer in males between the ages of 15-35, but it can affect ANY male at ANY time.
Symptoms include Discomfort or pain in the testicle, or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, pain in the back or lower abdomen, enlargement of a testicle or a change in the way it feels, excess development of breast tissue (however, this can occur normally in adolescent boys who do not have testicular cancer), lump or swelling in either testicle.
The Testicular Cancer Resource Center (TCRC) recommends monthly self examinations for males over the age of 14. As someone who at one time was a 14-year-old male, I can tell you that recommending any 14-year-old male to put their hands “down there” will be the easiest recommendation you’ll ever make. You’re likely to find they’ve been giving themselves “self examinations” for sometime.
In all seriousness, it’s important to get a feel for things down there, that way you’ll know when something is amiss. The TCRC suggests performing the exam after a warm bath or shower so that everything is nice and relaxed. As any male can attest to, and as Seinfeld made infamous, when things get a bit chilly in that region, the troops retreat to the closest source of heat making it difficult to get a good read on the “lay of the land” so-to-speak.
Alright, so here’s where we get into the meat and potatoes of this whole process, but we’re all adults here, so feel free to giggle.
The TCRC suggests standing in front of a mirror if possible so you can see if there’s any swelling in that area. Then, let each of the boys rest on the index and middle fingers of each hand. Now then, gently (I can’t stress that word enough) roll the boys between your fingers and thumbs. You shouldn’t feel any pain, unless you’re squeezing too hard. If that’s the case, loosen up a bit. You’re checking for testicular cancer, not trying to get the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. By the way, if one feels slightly larger than the other, don’t freak out, that’s normal.
Now locate the tube on the back of each one. These tubes are what put the bullets in the gun so to speak and are called the epididymis (knowledge is power). Using these as your “home base” work your way around to the sides of each, this is usually where cancerous lumps can form, although they have been known to show up on the front as well.
If you don’t find anything out of the ordinary, then you’re good to go. Now put some clothes on, no one wants to see that. Although if you want to stick around and reward yourself for a job well done, I don’t think anyone will fault you for that.
Let’s say you do find something a bit suspicious, whatever you do, don’t try to be all manly and blow it off like there’s nothing wrong, or it’s something that will go away on its own. Call your doctor, or find a urologist nearby and have it checked out. That way, even if it turns out to be nothing, you’ll know for sure.
Quick side note, the beard growing is coming along slowly. I’ll have an update soon. And finally, I’ll leave you with this picture. My original intent was to use it as the main image on the home page, but I wasn’t sure anyone would get the joke, so I’ll leave it here and if you get it, you get it. If not, no big deal.