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Symptoms

Read about the symptoms of testicular cancer and when you should see your doctor.

Testicular cancer symptoms can be similar to other conditions that affect the testicles, such as infections.

A lump or swelling in the testicle

A lump or swelling in part of one testicle is the most common symptom of a testicular cancer. It can be as small as a pea but may be much larger.

You may notice an unusual difference between one testicle and the other.

Most testicular lumps are not cancer. 

A heavy scrotum

Your scrotum may feel heavy.

Your doctor may shine a strong light through your testicle. This test is called transillumination:
  • light shows through a harmless, fluid filled cyst (called a hydrocoele)
  • light can't show through a cancer, which is a solid lump

Discomfort or pain in a testicle or the scrotum

Testicular cancer is not usually painful. But the first symptom for some men is a sharp pain in the testicle or scrotum. This happens in about 1 in 5 men (20%).

Less common symptoms

If the cancer has spread to lymph glands

Sometimes testicular cancer cells can spread into lymph glands at the back of the tummy (abdomen). This can cause backache or a dull ache in the lower tummy. Your doctor may call these lymph glands the para aortic or retro peritoneal lymph glands.

Less often testicular cancer spreads into lymph glands lower down, such as the pelvic lymph glands.

Diagram showing the pelvic and para aortic lymph nodes

    If testicular cancer has spread to lymph glands in other parts of the body you might feel lumps there, such as around the collarbone or in the neck

    If the cancer has spread to the lungs

    Sometimes testicular cancer spreads to the lungs. It rarely spreads to other organs in the body. If it has spread to the lungs you may have a cough or feel breathless. 

    Testicular cancer can usually be cured, even if it has spread when it is diagnosed.

    Symptoms due to hormones

    Many testicular cancers make hormones that can be detected in blood tests. Occasionally, men with testicular cancer have tender or swollen breasts because of these hormones.

    The cells can also spread to lymph nodes in the centre of your chest between the lungs – in an area called the mediastinum. If this happens you could have:

    • a cough
    • difficulty breathing
    • difficulty swallowing
    • a swelling in your chest
    When to see your doctor

    You should see your doctor if you have:

    • an unusual lump or swelling in part of one testicle
    • a sharp pain in the testicle or scrotum
    • a heavy scrotum
    • an increase in the firmness or feel
    • an unusual difference between one testicle and the other

    Your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer but it's important to get them checked by a doctor.

    Last reviewed: 
    21 Nov 2017
    • Testicular seminoma and non seminoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
      J Oldenburg and others
      Annals of Oncology, 2013, 24 (supplement 6 ): vi125-vi132

    • Suspected cancer: recognition and referral
      The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), June 2015

    • EAU Guidelines on Testicular Cancer 

      P Albers and others 

      European Association of Urologist 2016

    • Cancer and it Management (7th edition)

      J Tobias and D Hochhauser

      Wiley Blackwell 2015

    • Cancer Prinicples & Practice of Oncology (10th edition)

      V T DeVita, T S Lawrence and S A Rosenberg

      Wolters Klumer 2015

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