The most important thing is to speak to your doctor if you suspect any changes in your testicles. If you are in any doubt whatsoever then don't hesitate to do this.
Health professionals recommend that you perform a self examination once a month. Take a bath or a hot shower so that your scrotum is relaxed. Gently feel around the entire testicle. You should notice a few key areas:
- The front and sides are smooth.
- The back of the testis features a loose tube like structure (the epididymis).
- The top of the testis features the top of this epididymis which is a littler thicker and also feels loose. Higher up is the spermatic cord which is a fibrous thick tube of blood vessels and nerves (imagine an electrical cable containing more cables within it).
If you have a good feel around your testes then you can often use the other testis as a reference to make sure that they are both similar. If you have always had one testicle that is smaller or deformed in some way then this will not serve any purpose.
A testicular tumor normally presents as a small peanut or ridge like nodule that interrupts the smooth surface of the testis. If you feel your testes then you will notice that there is a little "give" and you can apply a little pressure whilst examining yourself. Because tumours lie within the testis and not directly on the surface then if you notice any strange change in the consistency of the testis whilst applying this pressure then you should speak to your doctor.
Sometimes a tumor also presents as a feeling of heaviness in one testicle or a feeling that the entire testis has hardened. Although tumors are painless lumps, pain in the testis can also be an indicator of a tumor.
Above all, learn the anatomy of your testis and if you feel that something has changed or is unusual then visit your doctor without delay. Testicular cancer is highly curable at all stages of the disease but the earlier you seek treatment, the smaller the tumor will be, the less likely that it has spread and therefore the less aggressive any treatment is likely to be and the higher your rate of survival.
In my particular case, I felt an irregularity in my testis. It was so slight that I could not ascertain whether it warranted seeing the doctor or whether it was just nothing and I was imagining it. In the end, I decided to see the doctor to put my mind at rest. Even he could not detect the lump when he examined and palpated (felt) my testicles. However, an ultrasound and subsequent surgery confirmed that it was indeed testicular cancer.
The key lesson is to see your doctor without delay if anything is unusual. A "wait and see" approach is not suitable for a potential tumor.
For more information on testicular cancer, I recommend checking out this very helpful forum: Testicular Cancer Information & Support Forum.