Overview | Symptoms & diagnosis | FAQ

Cancer of the testicle is the most common cancer in men from age 18 to 34. Testicular cancer, however, when detected early, is one of the most easily cured types of cancer.

But unless testicular cancer is diagnosed and treated at an early stage, it may spread throughout the lymph node system into the lungs and remaining parts of the body. Testicular cancer can be especially dangerous because there are often no symptoms associated with it.

Symptoms & diagnosis
Testicular cancer starts as a small pea-sized lump within the testicle which may not be noticed unless self-testicular examinations are routinely performed. Finding a lump isn't necessarily reason to panic, however, as not all swellings or lumps in the scrotum are cancer. But it is important to have a physician check out all lumps or hard spots that a man or his partner may detect. In addition to specific blood tests that are now available to detect testicular cancer, sound waves can visualize the testicle for any abnormalities.

How can I prevent testicular cancer?
All men should perform monthly self-testicular examinations just as women do monthly self-breast examinations. The optimal time to perform the examination is while taking a warm shower. Both hands should be used to examine each testicle with the thumbs in front and the first two fingers behind the testicle. The testicle should be rolled between the fingers and thumb, feeling for any lumps or bumps.

The testicle normally feels like a hard-boiled egg without the shell. If lumps or bumps are discovered, a physician, preferably a urologist, should be consulted at once. The best chance of prevention is early detection and treatment.

I have persistent discomfort in my testes during the day, particularly after sitting. Should I be concerned about cancer?
You're wise to be concerned about testicular cancer; it's all too common in young men and returns as a risk after your 40s. I suggest that you see a doctor to rule out that possibility, but as long as you've been doing monthly self-exams, and no lumps or hard spots have developed, that probably isn't your problem.

A variety of difficulties can lead to pain in one or both testes. When you're examined by your doctor for cancer, he can also check for hernia, which can cause the symptoms you describe.

If you feel pain mainly when you ejaculate, one of two problems is likely. Infection is a possibility, either in the testes or the epididymis (the mass of tubes that extend from the back of the testes). Mumps, of course, can infect the testes and occasionally leads to infertility. And sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia can infect the epididymis.

Still, infections just aren't that common, even though many men who complain of testicular pain are offered a simple course of antibiotics as treatment. If the pain is in both testes, and antibiotics don't seem to be helping, resist trying another course of a different antibiotic. When both hurt, it's rarely infection or a hernia.

More likely, a general discomfort such as you describe is caused by muscle spasms. Most men don't appreciate how many muscles there are in the vicinity of the testes. The tip-off of a muscular problem is if the pain is if the symptoms disappear with a hot bath. Besides the regular baths, medication to relax the muscles will probably be helpful, and wearing a jock strap will offer support. Knowing that you don't have cancer will also do a world of good for your ability to relax.


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