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Worried about testicular cancer

I am worried I have testicular cancer. What should I do?

 

Who gets testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is a rare type of cancer. Around 2,200 men are diagnosed in the UK each year. Testicular cancer is very unlikely in men over the age of 55.

 

Seeing your doctor

It’s important to see your GP as soon as possible if you’re worried that you might have testicular cancer. Your GP will examine your testicles.

Many men worry, or are embarrassed, about seeing their doctor about a problem with their genitals. But you don’t need to worry. Your doctor will be aware that it can be embarrassing. And they are used to examining men.

Your GP will ask you to undress below the waist. They will then gently roll each testicle between their fingers

  • To feel for any lumps
  • To see if the testicles are enlarged or hard

Your GP may also feel your abdomen and your groin for any swelling.

If you have a lump in your testicle, your GP may try to shine a strong light through it. This can help them tell what kind of lump it is.

If the light shines straight through, it is probably a harmless fluid filled cyst called a hydrocoele. If the light doesn’t shine through, it is a solid lump.

 

Seeing a testicular cancer specialist

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines to help GPs decide who they should refer to a specialist straight away.

Most men who go to the GP with a lump won’t need to be referred to a specialist. This is because the lump is due to something else, for example an infection or inflammation. Your GP can treat these conditions or can refer you for a test. The main test for a testicular lump is an ultrasound scan, which is cheap, quick and painless.

Your GP may ask you to wait and see if your symptoms get better on their own. Or they may prescribe a treatment such as antibiotics and wait to see if the symptoms go away.

But your GP will not take any chances if they suspect you might have testicular cancer.

The NICE guidelines say that if your GP suspects you may have cancer and gives you an urgent referral, you should ideally get a specialist appointment within 2 weeks.

 

Checking your testicles

The best way to find testicular cancer early is to know what is normal for you. Being aware how your testicles normally look and feel will help you notice any changes.

Lumps can be cancer, but they can also be other things. How quickly or slowly a lump grows does not really tell you much. So if you have a lump that is worrying you, you should see a doctor, even if it has been there for a long time.

It is common to have one testicle slightly larger than the other. It is also common to have one testicle hanging lower than the other. At the top and back of the testicle there is a soft tube. This is the epididymis which carries and stores sperm. It may feel slightly tender. It can be easy to confuse the epididymis with an abnormal lump. Running up from the epididymis is a smooth tube. This is the spermatic cord.

There is information about finding testicular cancer early in the testicular cancer section.

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Updated: 15 December 2014