Testicular cancer symptoms

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump or swelling in your testicle.

Testicular symptoms to look out for include:

  • a lump or swelling in part of one testicle
  • a testicle that gets bigger
  • a heavy scrotum
  • discomfort or pain in your testicle or scrotum

The scrotum is the sack of skin that surrounds your testicles. These symptoms can be similar to other conditions that affect the testicles, such as infections. But see a doctor if you have:

  • any of these symptoms
  • symptoms that are unusual for you
  • symptoms that don’t go away or don’t improve

Your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer but it is important to get them checked by a doctor. Try not to be embarrassed. Doctors are used to discussing intimate problems and will try to put you at ease.

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.

Most testicular lumps are not cancer. But do contact your doctor so you can be checked.

Your doctor may shine a strong light through your scrotum. This test is called transillumination. This is useful because:

  • light shows through a harmless, fluid filled cyst (for example a hydrocoele)
  • light can't show through a cancer, which is a solid lump

It is usual for some men to have different size testicles. But see your doctor if the size changes, or you notice an unusual difference in size between one testicle and the other. 

A heavy scrotum

Your scrotum may feel heavy. Or you might notice that your scrotum feels firmer or harder.

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.

Less common symptoms

If the cancer has spread to lymph nodes (glands)

Sometimes testicular cancer cells can spread into lymph nodes 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 nodes the retroperitoneal lymph nodes.

Diagram showing retroperitoneal lymph nodes

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

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 one or more of the following:

  • a cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a swelling in your chest

    If testicular cancer has spread to lymph nodes 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 show up in blood tests. Occasionally, men with testicular cancer have tender or swollen breasts because of these hormones.

    • EAU Guidelines on Testicular Cancer
      MP Laguna and others
      European Association of Urology, 2021

    • Testicular seminoma and non-seminoma: ESMO-EURACAN Clinical Practice Guideline for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
      J. Oldenburg and others
      Annals of Oncology, 2022 Volume 33, Issue 4, pages 362 - 375

    • Suspected cancer: recognition and referral
      National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), June 2015 (updated 2021)

    • Scottish referral guidelines for suspected cancer
      Scottish Government, January 2019 (updated 2020)

    • The management of acute testicular pain in children and adolescents
      MT Jefferies and others
      British Medical Journal, 2015.350:h1563, Pages 1-8 350

    • The information on this page is based on literature searches and specialist checking. We used many references and there are too many to list here. Please contact patientinformation@cancer.org.uk with details of the particular issue you are interested in if you need additional references for this information.

    Last reviewed: 
    06 Feb 2022
    Next review due: 
    06 Feb 2025

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