There is nothing more worrisome than finding a lump where there shouldn’t be one. For many men, one of the biggest fears is discovering a lump on one of your testicles. A lump on testicles, or a testicular cyst, can mean so many things. Whether it is a small lump on your testicle or a hard lump on your testicle, the first thing that crosses your mind is the big C: cancer. But is that the only thing a testicular lump could mean?
This guide is meant to take you through the basics of testicular lumps. From the symptoms, causes, and types of lumps to diagnosis and treatment, this will hopefully ease your anxiety about testicular lumps.
Symptoms of Lump on Testicles
Depending on the cause, the symptoms of a lump on your testicles can vary widely. Outside of cancer cases, most lumps don’t cause pain—hence why they sneak up on you and seemingly appear out of nowhere. Some lumps like those caused by testicular torsion can lead to fevers, nausea, vomiting, and frequent urination. The one pretty universal symptom is swelling or a lump in the testicle area. This lump (while not necessarily painful) will more than likely be uncomfortable due to its location and size.
The biggest thing to watch for is testicular cancer. Symptoms that come along with a testicular cancer lump can include heaviness in the scrotum, a dull ache in the groin area and possibly the abdomen, and a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum.
Symptoms of testicular lumps are directly tied to the cause, and there are several causes of testicle lumps to consider.
Causes & Types of Lump on Testicles
While cancer is a possibility, there are a number of other reasons for the types and causes of lumps on testicles. All of the potential causes should be checked out by a physician.
These lumps are due to a buildup of fluid in testicles. This occurs more frequently babies with the Mayo Clinic estimating that one out of 100 male newborns will have to deal with hydrocele. Premature babies are at higher risk for hydrocele, and while this is mainly an infant problem, this may occur in adult males as well
Epididymitis refers to the inflammation of your epididymis, which is a structure above where your testicles create sperm. This inflammation (usually caused by a bacterial infection) can cause the epididymis to swell, creating a lump.
3. Epididymal Cyst
An epididymal cyst occurs when the epididymis becomes filled with fluid that doesn’t drain, causing a lump in the testicle area. These cysts usually work themselves out.
Essentially, this lump is due to the abnormal enlargement of the pampiniform venous plexus (the network of small veins around the spermatic cord in the testicles) that will feel like a lump.
A testicular lump can be caused by a hernia in the groin.
6. Testicular Torsion
This is where your testicles have become twisted. This is usually due to an accident or an injury. It can happen to men of all ages but usually affects men 13 to 17 years of age.
7. Testicular Cancer
Unfortunately, cancer is a definite cause of some lumps in the testicular region. Testicular cancer lumps are not incredibly common, but testicular cancer is one of the more common types of cancer among males 15 to 34.
While cancer may seem most urgent, all of these causes must be properly diagnosed as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your testicles.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Lump on Testicles
If you have found a lump on your testicles, especially a painful lump on the testicles, you should try to see a doctor as soon as you can. The doctor will try to quickly assess the underlying issue. The examination may include the following:
1. Discussion of recent medical and physical activity
This can help rule out some issues and strengthen others. For example, if you were recently hit in the testicles while playing soccer, a diagnosis of testicular torsion is more plausible than cancer.
2. Pain level
The doctor will also ask about the amount of pain you are in and whether the pain increases with touch. This may also be followed up with a physical test.
3. The lump
You will probably be asked about the lump as well as have the lump examined. The difference between a hard lump on the testicle and a pea-sized lump on the testicle may make a difference in diagnosis.
4. Additional symptoms
The doctor will also ask you about other symptoms you may be experiencing, especially in relation to your penis and testicles. For example, is there pain, discharge, or blood in the urine when you urinate?
While some of this may seem embarrassing to talk about, it’s important to be honest with your doctor so that a correct diagnosis can be made.
Don’t Wait it Out, Go See a Doctor!
Many men have issues with seeing a doctor for a physical problem, especially one involving the private area. It is important to remember that a lump of any type on your testicles should be investigated with the help of a doctor. The lump might not be cancer, but it should be checked out and treated. The longer a lump on testicles goes undiagnosed, the bigger the problem may become.
Krans, B., “Testicle Lumps,” Healthline, April 4, 2016; http://www.healthline.com/health/testicle-lump#overview1, last accessed March 30, 2017.
“Testicular Lumps and Swellings,” NHS; http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Testicular-lumps-benign/Pages/Diagnosis.aspx, last accessed March 30, 2017.
“Testicular Lump,” The British Association of Urological Surgeons; http://www.baus.org.uk/patients/conditions/12/testicular_lump, last accessed March 30, 2017.