Testicular cancer symptoms
This page is about the symptoms of testicular cancer. There is information about
Testicular cancer symptoms
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump or swelling in part of one testicle. But most testicular lumps are NOT cancer.
A lump that is cancer can be as small as a pea or it may be much larger. It is not usually painful, but some men have a dull ache in the affected testicle, or in their lower tummy (abdomen). Your scrotum may feel heavy.
The cells can also spread to the lymph nodes in the centre of your chest, between the lungs. This could cause a cough, difficulty in breathing or swallowing, and a swelling in your chest. If testicular cancer has spread, there may be lumps in other parts of the body, such as around the collarbone, or in the neck. These lumps are lymph glands that contain cancer cells.
Testicular cancer can also spread to other organs in the body. If it has spread to the lungs you may have a cough or feel breathless. It is not very common for testicular cancer to spread to other organs apart from the lungs.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the About testicular cancer section.
The most common symptom of a testicular cancer is a lump or swelling in part of one testicle. It can be as small as a pea or it may be much larger.
Remember that most testicular lumps are NOT cancer. At a testicular clinic at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, only 76 cancers were found out of 2,000 men seen with a testicular lump. This means that fewer than 4 in every 100 testicular lumps (4%) are cancer (figures courtesy of Mr Mike Wallace, FRCS).
Testicular cancer is not usually painful, but about 1 in 5 men (20%) have a sharp pain in the scrotum as a first symptom. Some men may have a dull ache in
- The affected testicle
- Their lower tummy (abdomen)
Your scrotum may feel heavy. Your GP may shine a strong light through your testicle. If you have a fluid filled cyst (called a hydrocoele) rather than a cancer, the light will show through. A cancer is a solid lump and the light can't pass through it. Your doctor may call this test transillumination.
Sometimes testicular cancer cells can spread into lymph glands at the back of the tummy (abdomen). This can cause backache, which is usually constant and you need to take painkillers. Your doctor may call these lymph glands the para aortic or retro peritoneal lymph glands. Sometimes testicular cancer spreads into lymph glands lower down such as the pelvic lymph glands.
The cells can also spread to the lymph nodes in the mediastinum. This is an area in the centre of your chest, between the lungs. If you have testicular cancer in the lymph nodes in your mediastinum, you could have
- A cough
- Difficulty in breathing
- Difficulty in swallowing
- A swelling in your chest
If testicular cancer has spread, there may be lumps in other parts of the body, such as around the collarbone, or in the neck. These lumps are lymph glands that contain cancer cells.
The earlier a cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat it and the more likely the treatment is to be successful. So it is important that you go to your GP as soon as possible if you notice worrying symptoms.
You can find information about finding testicular cancer early in this section.
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