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Referral to a specialist

How and when your GP might refer you to see a testicular cancer specialist, and questions to ask your doctor.

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist within 2 weeks if you have symptoms that could be due to testicular cancer. This is called an urgent referral.

Seeing your GP

The symptoms of testicular cancer can be similar to other conditions that affect the testicles. It can be difficult for a GP to decide if you might have a cancer or another condition that will go away on its own.

Most lumps in the testicles and swellings in the scrotum are not cancer. Testicular cancer is very unlikely in men over the age of 55.

Your GP might ask you to wait and see if your symptoms get better or respond to treatment such as antibiotics.

By examining you, your GP might be able to tell that your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer. For example, if you have a lump they may shine a strong light through it:
  • light shows through a harmless, fluid filled cyst (called a hydrocoele)
  • light can't show through a cancer, which is a solid lump

Your GP won't take chances. They will refer you to a specialist if there is any possibility that you could have cancer.

Urgent referral

You should get an urgent referral to see a specialist if you have:
  • a non painful swelling or lump in the testicle
  • a change in shape or texture of the testicle

Your GP should consider referring you for a testicular ultrasound scan if you have unexplained or continuing testicular symptoms.

UK referral guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) produce guidelines for GPs. The guidelines help them decide who needs to be referred urgently to a specialist or for tests.

Information and help