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Self-Exams for Early Testicular Cancer Detection

Like any cancer, testicular cancer poses serious health risks to those diagnosed with it. The key to treatment and survival from testicular cancer lies in early detection.

Delayed Diagnosis

Sadly, most cases of testicular cancer are not diagnosed until symptoms have worsened enough to send the patient to see a doctor, or as a result of tests performed for another condition. It is clear that more men need to be engaging in regular self-examinations. This way, you can be the first to spot an abnormality of the testicles and seek treatment from a medical professional.

How Can I Complete a Self-Exam?

older man at doctorPerforming a testicular self-examination is quick, and includes the following simple steps:

  1. Begin the exam after a warm shower to ensure that the skin is loose and relaxed, making it easier to feel any lumps within the testicles.
  2. Make sure to use both hands with the index and middle fingers underneath the testicle and the thumbs on top. Once the testicle rests firmly between your fingers, you should start to roll your thumbs across the testicle.

It is important to note that you will feel certain anatomical structures such as the epididymis, which is located at the back of the testicle. The epididymis is responsible for transporting sperm. It may feel like a lump with a strange chord-like texture, but it is absolutely normal and should not concern you in any way.

Most real lumps will be painless bits of tissue the size of a pea or larger. If you believe you have found a lump, it is critical to contact a doctor immediately. Even if it is a false alarm, it is so much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to testicular cancer.

Additional Tests for Testicular Cancer

If a physician finds a suspicious lump, or any other sign of testicular cancer, they will need to perform additional tests in order to determine a cause for these abnormalities. Usually, an ultrasound of the testicles is the first to be done.

All ultrasounds use sound waves in order to produce images of inner tissues of the body. These sound waves bounce around inside the testicle and reverberate back to create a clear depiction of the organ and any possible lumps within it. If the lump appears to be solid, it is more likely to be cancerous. Other imaging tests such as x-rays, a computed tomography (CT) scan, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may also be utilized to more accurately diagnose a patient.

Blood tests may also be completed in order to diagnose a case of testicular cancer. These tests look for high levels of particular proteins known as tumor markers. When present, these tumor markers suggest the existence of a testicular tumor.

Many cancer diagnoses involve a biopsy. A biopsy entails removing a tiny piece of the suspicious tissue and analyzing it. However, testicular cancer is unique in the fact that a biopsy may risk the spread of the cancer, so many physicians will recommend immediate treatment rather than risk a worsening case of testicular cancer.

If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment for a consult, contact Northwest Medical Specialties at (253) 428-8700.

HEALTH ALERT! For the safety of our patients and staff only patients will be allowed into our clinics and everyone MUST wear a mask. See additional information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


November 16, 2020 Update

During these difficult times we are making every effort to keep our patients and staff safe from COVID 19, we appreciate your patience and understanding with the changes you may have seen within our practice.

We strive to protect our patients and staff as much as we possibly can from any exposure on our premises.  NWMS has implemented a system wide policy that does not allow anyone in the building that is not a patient and everyone must wear an NWMS provided mask over their mouth and nose during their time on our premises.  This is to protect our vulnerable patients from the unforeseen possibility of exposure to COVID 19 which can be transmitted through aerosol droplets.  Sadly, we have had patients that have died from the complications of COVID 19, which is both devastating and preventable.

We offer a virtual visit option for family, friends, and companions to participate in the care of our patients through Zoom.  Our staff will assist you with every step of the login process and invite you to participate in real time from your vehicle or designated safe space in our building. Please contact us at 253-428-8700 to set this up.

The following offices are temporarily closed:

  • Bonney Lake
  • Federal Way

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, please make sure to contact us via phone prior to your appointment. You may also contact us for any additional questions by calling our office at (253) 428-8700.

Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control