The Black Dog
 Home Boy! The Soap Box | The Library | The Links | The Cave 


Your healing zone:

Testicular cancer



What are the signs?

The symptoms of testicular cancer include

  • a painless lump or swelling in either testicle
  • enlargement of the testicle
  • a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • a dull ache in the scrotum or the groin
  • a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum.

Sometimes other symptoms may be present, such as

  • backache
  • stomach-ache
  • breathlessness
  • a persistent dry cough tender nipples.


What are risk factors?

There is no evidence that an injury or a sporting strain increases the risk of developing testicular cancer. Risk factors include

  • Age: Unlike other cancers, testicular cancer is diagnosed more frequently in the young and middle-aged than in elderly men.
  • Cryptorchidism (undescended testicle): Normally, as a male baby grows in the womb, the testicles develop inside the body and descend into the scrotum before birth. In cryptorchidism, this does not happen to one or both testicles. This condition may increase the risk of testicular cancer by five to ten times. However, re-positioning the testicle in a hospital before the age of 10 may eliminate this excess risk.
  • Family history: Having a close relative who has had testicular cancer increases the risk of getting the disease. Inherited genetic factors may play a role in up to one in five testicular cancers.
  • Previous testicular cancer: Having had testicular cancer before increases the risk of developing cancer in the other testicle. However, cancer in both testicles is rare.
  • Race and ethnicity Testicular cancer is most common in affluent Caucasions. With the exception of New Zealand Maoris, the disease is rare in non-Caucasion populations.
  • Klinefelter's syndrome: This is a sex chromosome disorder, which results in low levels of male hormones, sterility, breast enlargement, and small testes. People who have Klinefelter's syndrome are at greater risk of developing testicular cancer.



What does self-examination entail?

Cancers which are found early are the most easily treated. The best way to check for testicular cancer is to examine yourself once a month. A good time to do this is after a warm bath or shower, when the scrotal skin is relaxed. Hold your scrotum in the palms of your hands, so that you can use the fingers and thumb on both hands to examine your testicles. Note the size and weight of the testicles. It is common to have one testicle slightly larger, or which hangs lower than the other, but any noticeable increase in size or weight many mean something is wrong. Gently feel each testicle individually. You should feel a soft tube at the top and back of the testicle. This is the epididymis which carries and stores sperm. It may feel slightly tender. Don't confuse it with an abnormal lump. You should be able to feel the firm, smooth tube of the spermatic cord which runs up from the epididymis. Feel the testicle itself. It should be smooth with no lumps or swellings. It is unusual to develop cancer in both testicles at the same time, so if you are wondering whether a testicle is feeling normal or not you can compare it with the other. Remember - if you do find a swelling in your testicle, make an appointment and have it checked by your doctor as soon as possible.

If you have any of the above symptoms, contact your GP!

Thanks to the Imperial Cancer Research fund for the above information See our links page to contact the Irish Cancer Society and check out the Irish page for further information.