Testicular cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer that occurs in the testicles, or testes, experts say.
According to the American Cancer Society, one of every 250 males develops testicular cancer at some point in their lifetime; however, because testicular cancer is usually treated successfully, the risk of dying due to the cancer is about one in 5,000 of diagnosed men, ACS says.
The testicles produce testosterone and store sperm.
Signs of testicular cancer
Physicians say, usually, an enlarged testicle or a small lump or area of hardness are the first signs of testicular cancer.
“Any lump, enlargement, hardness, pain, or tenderness should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible,” oncologists advise.
In order to determine the health of your testicles, experts say the testicles should feel smooth, without any lumps or bumps, and firm but not hard.
They spoke on the occasion of World Cancer Day, which is marked globally on February 4, being an international awareness day led by the Union for International Cancer Control to raise worldwide attention and inspire action for a cancer-free future.
Talking about testicular health, the United Kingdom’s National Health Services say you may feel a soft tube at the back of each testicle, which is called the epididymis, warning that if you notice any changes or anything unusual about your testicles, you should see your physician.
The NHS says most men’s testicles are about the same size, though it’s common for one to be slightly bigger than the other. It’s also common for one testicle to hang lower than the other.
Causes of testicular lumps and swellings
The NHS experts say there are several causes of testicular lumps and swellings, among which are:
- Varicocele – caused by enlarged veins in the testicles (may look like a bag of worms)
- Hydrocele – a swelling caused by fluid around the testicle
- Epididymal cyst – a lump caused by a collection of fluid in the epididymis
- Testicular torsion – a sudden painful swelling that occurs when a testicle becomes twisted (this is a medical emergency and requires surgery as soon as possible)
- Epididymitis – a chlamydia infection in the epididymis can cause inflammation, swelling and tenderness inside the scrotum (ball sack); a few men will notice that the whole of the scrotum is red and tender (this is called epididymo-orchitis)
- Testicular cancer – an estimated four in 100 lumps are cancer, so this is an uncommon cause of lumps.
Physicians advise that the early signs of testicular cancer are easy to spot.
Look out for one or more of the following:
- A hard lump on the front or side of a testicle
- Swelling or enlargement of a testicle
- An increase in firmness of a testicle
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles)
- An unusual difference between one testicle and the other
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