You should regularly self-examine your testicles. If you notice a lump or swelling or if you experience any of the symptoms described below, you can use our same-day GP service for peace of mind and immediate support.
Testicular cancer is uncommon on the whole, but is the cancer that most affects young men in the UK, with cases developing in roughly 1 in 500 men between the ages of 20 and 55. Half of such cases occur in men under 35. If caught early, the disease is easy to treat and cure, so it is a good idea to understand what to look out for. Over 9 out of 10 cases of testicular cancer are cured.
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump or swelling, which is why it is important to check yourself regularly, and to see a doctor if you notice anything unusual. The doctor will conduct a physical examination and will recommend next steps for diagnosis or treatment and review.
What is normal?
The testes are often different sizes, shapes, and weights. One may hang lower than the other. The epididymis, where sperm is stored, covers the top of each testis, and which you can feel under the skin as a soft swelling attached to the testis itself. From the epididymis, two narrow tubes, called the vas deferens, lead up into the groin, carrying sperm to the penis. These can also be felt through the skin, and should not be confused with an abnormal lump.
Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
The first noticeable symptom is a small lump on one testis, which is usually painless, and roughly the size of a pea, or larger. A general swelling may also be a sign of something wrong. Lumps are not always a symptom of cancer (roughly 4% of testicular lumps are cancerous), but it is always best to get them checked. Other symptoms of testicular cancer are: aches and pains in the testicles; heavy feeling in the scrotum; sudden presence of fluid in the scrotum; general feelings of being unwell or fatigue.
Awareness and risk factors of testicular cancer
Testicular cancer is most common in white men in Northern Europe. Other risk factors include:
• undescended testicles (cryptorchidism), a childhood condition where a boy is born with one or both testicles in the scrotum;
• Klinefelter syndrome, a genetic disorder where the karyotype carries an extra X chromosome;
Testicular self-examination (TSE)
The safest way to prevent testicular cancer from developing is to conduct regular self-checks of your testes in order to be aware of any changes. Self-examination is easiest after a bath or shower, as the warm water relaxes the skin and makes it easier to examine. Hold each testis in your palm, and use thumb and forefinger to feel for anything unusual, such as changes in size or weight, or any abnormal swelling or lumps. Most abnormalities are benign, however small lumps are the earliest warnings signs of cancer, and should be checked by a doctor immediately.
For an instructional video on TSE techniques, click here.