What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?

Movember is recognised each November to encourage early detection and treatment of disease affecting men and boys, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. The month is used to raise awareness about preventable problems and supporting men by providing information about the importance of health screenings, check-ups, and self-care.

Background concept wordcloud illustration of testicular cancer

What is Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer happens when cells in a testicle grow abnormally and out of control. The cancer cells can spread to other parts of your body. The testicles, which make and store sperm, are located in a pouch below the penis called the scrotum.

Although rare, testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in young men. It is also one of the most curable types of cancer.

 

What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?

Common symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • A swelling and/or lump in one or both of the testes. You may or may not have pain in the testes or scrotum.
  • A heavy feeling in the scrotum.
  • A dull pain or feeling of pressure in the lower belly or groin.
  • Sometimes these symptoms can be caused by other problems, such as a hydrocele or epididymitis.

 

Symptoms of advanced testicular cancer

Testicular cancer that has spread (metastasized) beyond the testicles and regional lymph nodes to other organs may cause other symptoms depending on the area of the body affected. Symptoms of late-stage testicular cancer may include:

  • Dull pain in the lower back and belly.
  • Lack of energy, sweating for no clear reason, fever, or a general feeling of illness.
  • Shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain.
  • Headache or confusion.

 

How is testicular cancer diagnosed?

If testicular cancer is suspected, your doctor will do some testing. Tests may include:

  • Testicular ultrasound. This test may be used to rule out other possible causes of an enlarged or painful testicle before the testicle is removed.
  • Blood tests. These are often done to measure the levels of these tumour markers in your blood:
    • Alpha fetoprotein (AFP)
    • Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (beta-hCG)
    • Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
  • Imaging tests, such as chest X-ray and CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

If the ultrasound and blood tests suggest testicular cancer, a doctor will surgically remove your affected testicle. It will be checked for cancer. If cancer is found, you may have other tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, to find out the stage of your cancer.

 

Ongoing exams and tests

During your treatment for testicular cancer, your doctor will schedule a thorough follow-up program to monitor your recovery, especially if you are doing surveillance. These exams and tests may continue for several years. In addition to physical exams, your follow-up program may include:

  • Periodic imaging tests such as chest X-rays or CT scans.
  • Blood tests to check the levels of tumour markers in your blood. Tumour marker levels that are stable or that increase after you’ve had treatment may be a sign of more cancer.


Early detection

Testicular self-exam may help detect testicular cancer. These cancers may be first found as a painless lump or an enlarged testicle during a self-exam.

Some doctors recommend that men ages 15 to 40 perform monthly testicular self-exams (TSE). But many doctors don’t believe that monthly TSE is needed for men who are at average risk for testicular cancer. Monthly TSE may be recommended for men who are at high risk for this kind of cancer. This includes men who have a history of an undescended testicle or a family or personal history of testicular cancer.

It can be hard knowing that you have testicular cancer. It’s normal to feel sad or angry. At totally Health, we want to help people feel more motivated, confident and in control of managing their own health, so they can make changes that help them feel better.

We help people with all types of cancer related health issues. We are here for you – when you need us. We listen. We understand. We help. We want you to live your life to the full, feel good and take charge of your health.

If you would like to know more about our service and how we could help you, please call 0333 004 0043.