Testicular lumps are more common than you would think and can be caused by a variety of things. The majority of these are nothing serious, but they should always be checked out by your doctor. This is because a small number of cases may turn out to be cancerous. The good news is the survival rate for testicular cancer is high, especially when caught early and treated. Healthwords' advice is that anyone with testicles should remember to check their balls at least once a month. This is different to prostate cancer.
It is best to check your testicles during or after a warm shower or bath. This is because it helps the skin around the testicles become softer so you will be able to have a more thorough feel. They should feel smooth and firm with a soft tube behind each one (known as the epididymis). You should also check for any skin changes. It is normal for one testicle to be slightly bigger than the other or sit slightly lower. However, if this is a change from your normal then you should still get it checked out by your doctor.
Most lumps are not cancerous. The most common causes are a collection of fluid known as a cyst, a swollen vein, or changes due to inflammation or injury. Inflammation and injury tend to cause painful swelling. Your doctor will be able to help differentiate what type of lump it is by having a feel and also occasionally shining a light through the lump (this helps to test whether there is any fluid present). If they are unsure, you may be referred to have an ultrasound scan or see a specialist.
Testicular cancer is not a common type of cancer but it is one that mainly affects young adults. The highest occurrence is in males in their 30s however it can affect any age. The most common first symptom is a lump which is why we recommend having a feel of your testicles regularly. Other symptoms can include an increase in the size of one testicle, a feeling of heaviness and rarely there may be some pain. However, pain is much more commonly associated with non-cancerous causes of testicular lumps. There are different types of testicular cancer depending on what kind of cell the tumour has developed from. Your doctor will guide you on the different types and the next steps for determining what type of testicular cancer it is and the treatment. Most treatments do involve the removal of the testicle that has cancer but it shouldn’t affect your ability to have sex, or have children in the future. The testicle that was removed can be replaced with a prosthetic if you would like.
You should see your doctor if you notice any change in your testicles or in the skin around them. You should also see the doctor if you feel a heaviness or pain in one of your testicles. Some people worry about having to show their genitals to the doctor, but the fact is – they will have seen it all before. Your healthcare professional is experienced, they will be professional, and seeing your doctor will be the quickest way to put your mind at ease. You can also request to see a male doctor at your surgery to get any changes checked out if that would make you feel more comfortable.
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