Lakeshore Urology

Lakeshore Urology , PLC
Serving Grand Haven, Muskegon, Shelby and the Lakeshore of West Michigan  (616) 604-8363

Self Examinations For Men

Monthly Exams

Regular self examinations are an important part of staying healthy.  We recommend that you pick a day each month and spend an extra bit of time after a shower to perform these vital self examinations.  They may save your life! You should also have regular visits with your primary care provider to discuss these recommendations.

Testicular Self-Examination

Testicular cancers can often be found early through examination.  A lump on the testicle is often the first sign of cancer.  The testicle may also be swollen or larger than normal.  Most providers agree that testicular exams should be part of a general physical exam.

If you find a lump on a testicle, you should seek medical attention right away.  Studies have not been performed that demonstrate that self examinations lower the risk of dying of testicular cancer.  Some organizations including Men's Health Network recommend that all men examine their testicles monthly once they reach puberty.

Some men are at higher risk for testicular cancer.  Having an undescended testicle or family history of testicular cancer increases your risk. 

How To Perform A Testicular Self Examination:
The best time to perform the self-exam is during a bath or shower.  The skin of the scrotum will be relaxed and the warmth will cause the testicles to hang lower away from the body.

To perform the exam:
1) Hold the penis out of the way so you can examine one testicle at a time.
2) Hold one testicle between the  fingers and thumbs of both hands.  
3) Roll the testicle gently between the fingers.
4)  Note any smooth bumps, hard lumps or changes in consistency, size or shape of the testicle.
5) Repeat the procedure on the other testicle.

It is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger and to hang lower than the other.  You will find a small structure running behind and to the side of each testicle-- this is an epididymis.  You will also find a cord that runs down from the abdomen to each testicle. This contains blood vessels and other tubes which may contain some irregularities or lumps.  These are usually not abnormal but if you have concerns, see your healthcare provider.

Testicles can feel larger for many non-cancerous reasons including hydroceles and varicoceles.  It can be easy to confuse these for a testicular tumor.  Again, if you have concerns, see your healthcare provider or call Lakeshore Urology.

Monthly testicular self examinations will teach you what is normal for you and allow you find changes early.

If you have concerns, seek medical attention right away. Report if you are having pain or other symptoms, and how long you have been noting these changes.

Oral Examination

A monthly oral exam plays a vital role in detecting oral cancer.  You see your mouth more than anyone else.  Self examination can find a suspicious spot in your mouth that may need attention of a health professional.  If you spot something abnormal, contact your dentist or other healthcare provider immediately.

Monthly self examinations do not take the place of dental visits.  You should see your dentist twice a year for a complete exam which includes a cancer screening.  You should also have your teeth cleaned by dental staff.

How to Perform an Oral Self Examination:

1) Get a bright light and a mirror.

2) Take out any removable dental devices such as braces bridges or dentures.

3) First you will examine the neck starting at the side and moving to the front to feel for lumps or tender spots.  Next feel for swelling or bumps on your face.

4) Take your upper lip and pull it up.  Look for color changes or sores on the lips.  Now examine the lower lip.

5) Pull your cheeks away from your gums with your fingers.  Look for color changes which may include white patches, dark spots or reddened areas.  Feel for lumps in your cheeks by holding your thumb on the outside and your index finger on the inside.

6)  Open your mouth wide and tilt back your head.  Look for color changes on the surface of the mouth.

7) Take a dry washcloth or cotton gauze to grab the tip of your tongue.  Look for color changes or swelling on the top, sides and back of tongue.

8) Next examine the bottom of the tongue by lifting it to the roof of your mouth.  Also look at the mouth floor.  You can continue to use the index finger in your mouth and thumb outside to examine for lumps or tenderness.

Seek attention of a dentist or health care professional if:

You find a sore that bleeds easily and doesn't seem to heal.

You find a red or white patch on your tongue, gums or elsewhere on the mucus membranes of your mouth.

You find a thick spot/lump in your cheek that you can feel with your tongue.

You have difficulty swallowing or chewing food.

You have trouble moving your tongue.

You have trouble opening and closing your jaw.

You have a sore throat or feel like something is caught in your throat that you cannot clear.

You have pain and swelling where dental work is placed.

Numbness or tingling or loss of taste.

Skin Examination

Performing a regular skin examination is recommended for early detection of skin cancer.  We recommend a monthly exam so that you become familiar with your unique skin.  

How to Perform a Skin Self-Examination

An optimal time to perform a skin self-examination is after a bath or shower.  You should have a full length mirror, a handheld mirror and perform the examination in a brightly lit room.

Especially at first, it is important to become familiar with any moles and birthmarks are located, noting how they feel and look. 

Look and Feel for:

  • New moles and those that look different from other moles on your body
  • Changes in color, size, shape or feel of an existing mole
  • New flesh colored firm bumps
  • New dark colored or red flaky patches--these may or may not be raised
  • Sores that don't seem to heal

Start from the top and work down.  Be thorough.

1)  Examine the scalp-- this area gets lots of sun exposure.  Use a blow dryer and/or a comb to move your hair to better visualize the scalp. This is also an area that it may be easier to have someone else examine you.

2)  Carefully examine the face, ears (including behind the ears), neck and throat area.

3)  Use the mirrors and look at the front and back of your body. Don't forget the genital area and between the buttocks.

4)  Lift up your arms and examine each side of your body.

5)  Examine your arms, being sure to examine the upper arm, top and underside; bend the elbows and examine them; forearms, front and back.

6)  Examine your hands (both sides), fingers (including fingernails), areas between the fingers.

7)  When examining your legs, be sure to examine the front, sides, and back of the legs including behind the knees.

8)  Closely look at your feet.  Examine the ankles, tops, spaces between the toes, toenails, and the bottoms of each foot.

Congratulations!  You will learn what is normal for your skin by checking it monthly.  You may want to keep a record of the dates you perform a self exam and note any findings.  Some people will also take pictures of moles so they can compare them at a later time. See your healthcare provider if you find

By checking your skin regularly, you will learn what is normal for you. It may be helpful to record the dates of your skin exams and to write notes about the way your skin looks. If your doctor has taken photos of your skin, you can compare your skin to the photos to help check for changes. If you have concerns or note any changes, be sure to seek examination by a healthcare provider.

Breast Examination

Although a man's breasts appear to serve no real purpose, they can develop breast cancer.  Male breast cancer is rare, so the vigorous routine screening protocol used for women including mammogram generally isn't recommended.

Women get breast cancer at a rate about 100 times more often than men, but men have the same tissue that can undergo changes to become cancer. Men are at highest risk for developing breast cancer between the ages of 60-70, but can happen at anytime during adulthood.

Some things make you more susceptible to breast cancer.  For instance if there is a strong family history, you may want to talk with your primary care provider about closer monitoring.  In this case, the monthly breast self-examination is even more important for you. 

Male breast cancer is often diagnosed at a more advanced stage, possibly due to lack of early detection.  This has made some think that the outcome for men having breast cancer is more dire than for women, but early detection and treatment can offer the same outcomes for men.

How to Perform a Male Breast Self-Exam

It is best to perform your monthly breast self-exam during or just after a shower.  Showering smooths and relaxes the skin-- this makes the examination easier to perform thoroughly.

1)  Use the opposite hand to examine a breast, i.e., the fingers of your left hand to examine your right breast, and the right fingers to examine the left.

2)  Only examine one breast at a time.  Finish with one breast before moving to the other.

3)  Place your fingers flat on the breast, and press firmly.  Then move the fingers in a small circle.

4)  Start at the outside of the breast and slowly circle your way to the nipple, looking for lumps, tenderness, changes in texture. Be sure to examine every spot on the breast, including the area between the breast and the shoulder.

5)  Squeeze the nipple and look for discharge of any type. 

6)  Repeat this procedure with the other breast.

When examining the breasts, look and feel carefully for changes in shape, size, contour, texture.  Be on the lookout for lumps, bumps, shape inconsistencies, skin texture changes, or dimpling/puckering of the skin or nipples.  If you note any changes, be sure to seek examination by a healthcare provider.