As a general rule, if you notice any changes to the scrotum at all, it is important that you make an appointment to get checked by a GP. You may not have a visible lump. Other changes such as swelling, or change in texture or shape, or any difference arising between the testicles, either in how they look or feel, are all signs that you should go to the GP & let them know what’s happening so that they can advise you on the next steps.
Some of the most common signs & symptoms of testicular cancer are as follows:
- A painless pea-sized or larger lump or swelling in one of the testicles
- Changes to the shape, size, or texture of the testicles
- Increased firmness (due to fluid build-up)
- One testicle becoming larger than the other
- Testicular pain (sharp or dull) that may come & go
- A dull ache in the groin or abdomen
Testicular lumps are not uncommon, & in many cases, this will not be a sign of cancer, so if you do notice something, try not to assume the worst. If you do notice a lump, the best thing to do is make an appointment with the GP as soon as possible, so that they can examine you & rule out testicular cancer.
Other possible causes for a testicular lump are epididymal cysts or swollen blood vessels. You may also want to have a testicular cancer screening if you have a strong family history of the disease (a diagnosis in one or more immediate family members). If this is the case, you can also speak to the doctor about whether or not self-examination is a good idea.
The cause of testicular cancer is not known, but there are a number of risk factors that make you more likely to develop it. These include:
- Cryptorchidism (undescended testicles)
- Abnormal testicular cells
- Fertility issues
- Family history of testicular cancer
- Hypospadias (a genetic abnormality of the penis & urethra)
- Inguinal hernia
- Back pain
Your consultation with the doctor will last around half an hour. They will talk to you about any symptoms you have been experiencing, & ask you questions about your family history & lifestyle. If a physical examination is required, they will also perform this, as well as recommending any tests that are relevant in helping to get you a clear diagnosis. If you require specialist care, this can be arranged for you following your visit, at no extra cost.