Self-examination of the testes is important for early detection of cancer of the testicle, which can be felt as a small lump. The self-examination technique is simple, and should be performed once a month as follows:
• When: The best time is right after a warm shower when the scrotal skin is relaxed and its contents can be felt most easily.
• How: Examine each testicle gently with the fingers of both hands by rolling the testicle between the thumb and forefingers (see illustration).
• What to look for: Look for a small lump about the size of a pea on the front or the side of the testicle (see right). A natural rope-like structure, the epididymis, is situated along the back of the testicle. Learn what it feels like so that you do not confuse it with an abnormal mass.
• What to do: Not all lumps are cancerous, but if you do find one, tell your physician at once. When diagnosed early, testicular cancer is completely curable.
Anatomy of the Scrotum
The testes (singular, testis) are two glandular organs located within the scrotum which produce spermatozoa (sperm) and male hormones. Each testis is ovoid in shape, and a tubular structure called the epididymis is situated along its back portion. At its lower end, the epididymis connects to a longer tubular structure called the vas deferens, or seminal duct, which leads to the prostate gland.
The epididymis collects sperm produced in the testis. The sperm then travel up the vas deferens to the prostate gland in the seminal fluid. There, secretions are added which aid sperm motility (ability to move about), producing semen. Semen is released from the prostate gland into the urethra, through which it exits the body during sexual intercourse.
Illustrations by David Sundel
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