Testicular Cancer

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is now highly curable, especially if diagnosed in good time. Over 96% of men with early stage testicular cancer will be completely cured (NHS Choices 2015). Some men looked for lumps, having been encouraged to examine themselves by their mothers. Typically the man or his partner finds a painless lump in the testicle. Lumps, swellings and asymmetry are not always due to cancer, but it is sensible to have any lump or swelling examined by a doctor. Here men describe how they found a lump while taking a bath or a shower. (For more on self-examination see 'Message to others'.)

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Enlargement or swelling of one testicle is also common. The testicle may feel abnormally firm or hard when touched, or the texture may feel different.

Sometimes symptoms are not so specific. One man said that his testicle just didn't 'feel right', after an incident when his baby kicked him. Another recalled that the first symptom he noticed was general fatigue. It was only much later, after he had consulted his GP on two occasions that he noticed that one of his testicles was swollen. Another man noticed that he had a slight irritation when ejaculating. This was the only symptom.

Some men discovered lumps or other irregularities after they or their wives had read articles in the paper, or heard about testicular cancer on the radio or television.

Sometimes men experience discomfort or pain in the testicle before a lump is discovered.

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Less commonly, men with metastases, when the cancer has spread to the para-aortic lymph nodes, experience back pain before they find anything wrong with a testicle.

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Occasionally, men with pulmonary metastases (when the cancer has spread to the lung) first discover they have testicular cancer because they are breathless or because they are coughing up blood.  

Rarely, men may discover they have a problem because the cancer has spread to another part of the body and first appears as a lump under the skin.

Very occasionally, men may experience tender nipples, the development of breasts or excessive sweating, symptoms that are caused by a hormone that is produced by some testicular tumours.

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Last reviewed August 2015.
Last updated August 2015.

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