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There is no better way to keep testicular cancer at bay than to examine yourself for signs of its presence at least once a month, and ideally once a week. “You can’t emphasize the testicular self-exam enough,” says Dr. Warren. “It clearly makes a difference and it’s very easy to do.”
The exam is best done when the testicles are relaxed and loose, which is why most doctors recommend performing it just after taking a warm shower or bath. Taking one testicle at a time, gently roll it between your thumb and first three fingers until you’ve felt the entire surface. A healthy testicle will be about the consistency of a hard-boiled egg: smooth and firm, but not hard. If you feel lumps or areas of hardness, find one testicle to be larger than the other or experience any pain, you may have trouble. (Tumors can be felt when they get to be about the size of a pea— a small growth.) The exam takes about 30 seconds.
A number of problems can feel like testicular cancer but aren’t; if you find something, don’t get overly alarmed at first. “Twenty to 30 percent of the men I examine turn out to have an abnormality but not a significant problem,” says Richard D. Williams, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Urology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine in Iowa City. The main point is to see a doctor immediately: Even if the problem is benign (fluid buildup in the testicle, for example), you’ll want to relieve your anxiety and if necessary, fix the problem.
Your doctor may do a number of mild tests to determine whether or not you have cancer. He’ll hold a light to the testicle (the light will pass through mere fluid but not through a tumor). He may do an ultrasound to get a better picture of what’s there. He may also order a blood test, looking for various proteins whose levels rise in response to a tumor.

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