Testicular self-exams help you learn the normal feel and appearance of your testicles. That may make it more likely that you'll notice subtle changes, should they occur. Changes in your testicles could be a sign of a common benign condition, such as an infection or a cyst, or a less common condition, such as testicular cancer.

Who should consider regular testicular exams?

It's not clear which men should consider regular testicular exams. Though often promoted as a way to detect testicular cancer, testicular exams aren't proven to reduce the risk of dying of the disease. Testicular cancer is a relatively uncommon type of cancer. It's also highly treatable at all stages, so finding testicular cancer early doesn't make a cure more likely.

Doctors and medical organizations differ on their recommendations for testicular exams. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force doesn't recommend testicular exams because a benefit has never been proven. The American Cancer Society recommends discussing cancer-related health issues, such as testicular self-exams, with your doctor during routine checkups. If you're concerned about your risk of testicular cancer, discuss the issue with your doctor. Together you can decide whether regular testicular self-exams are right for you.

Dec. 02, 2011