"Off-Label" Usage of Testicular Self-Examination (TSE): Benefits Beyond Cancer Detection

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Testicular cancer (TCa) is the most common cancer among 15- to 34-year-old males. Treatments are highly effective, which help foster approximately 98% 5-year survival rate. There are very few known causal factors of the disease (e.g., cryptorchidism and family history), thus possibly limiting primary prevention methods. Secondary preventative measures, on the other hand, most notably testicular self-examination (TSE), are well-known and are promoted to help prevent late-stage diagnosis of TCa. However, debate ensues as to whether or not TSE provides any benefit. In light of a recent systematic review conducted by these authors assessing the effectiveness of TSE promotion interventions, we propose that the behavior can serve as a tool not just for detection of TCa, but other male-specific urogenital health concerns, including varicoceles, hydroceles, among others. Furthermore, we suggest that TSE can also help foster informed decision-making skills among males with regard to health concerns and treatment options. However, our advocacy is in direct conflict with U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s influential “D” rating of TSE and others who recommend against performing TSE. This article offers an overview of the dispute over TSE’s purpose and net benefit. We conclude that TSE is a behavior that is beneficial beyond detecting cancer. These proposed “off-label” uses of the procedure make for an effectual means to promote testicular health, self-awareness, and wellness among males. Recommendations for future research and advocacy are presented to the academy.

Original Citation

Rovito, M.J., Leone, J.E., & Cavayero, C.T. (2018). “Off-Label” Usage of Testicular Self-Examination (TSE): Benefits Beyond Cancer Detection. American Journal of Men’s Health, 12(3), 505-513. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988315584942