10 Testicular Cancer Symptoms and Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Reviewed on 10/3/2017

What is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is a potentially deadly disease. Although it accounts for only 1.2% of all cancers in males, cancer of the testis accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35.

Testicular cancer has two peaks according to age. The first peak occurs before the age of 45 and accounts for about 90% of cases of testicular cancer. A second much smaller peak affects men over 50.

What are the possible signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?

Testicular cancers are often (90%-95%) curable even if they are metastatic.

The first and early sign of testicular cancer is most commonly a little ("pea-sized") lump on the testis (painless testicular lump). There may be no real pain, at most just a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, perhaps a sensation of dragging and heaviness. The signs and symptoms of cancer of the testicle may include...

  1. a lump in or on a testicle (testicular lump) is the most common sign;
  2. any enlargement or swelling of a testicle and/or scrotum;
  3. shrinking of a testicle;
  4. a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum (scrotal heaviness);
  5. a dull ache in the lower abdomen (lower abdominal pain) or in the groin (groin ache);
  6. a collection of fluid in the scrotum;
  7. discomfort or pain in a testicle or in the scrotum;
  8. enlargement or tenderness of the breasts;
  9. lower back pain due to retroperitoneal disease spread; and
  10. enlarged or swollen lymph nodes or masses due to disease spread.

The best hope for early detection of testicular cancer is a simple three-minute self-examination once a month. The ideal time for this exam is after a warm bath or shower, when the scrotal skin is most relaxed.

Gently roll each testicle between the thumb and fingers of both hands. If any hard lumps or nodules are felt, a man should see a doctor promptly. A lump may not be malignant, but only a doctor can make the diagnosis.

What are the advanced testicular cancer symptoms and signs?

Advanced testicular cancer symptoms may include

There can be some overlap of symptoms and signs between advanced and early testicular cancer in some individuals. In addition, many symptoms listed above may occur with other diseases. Consequently, individuals should seek medical caregivers (primary care physicians, urologists, oncologists, and pathologists, for example) to get a definitive diagnosis.


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Reviewed on 10/3/2017

Sachdeva, Kush. "Testicular Cancer Clinical Presentation." Medscape.com. Feb. 16, 2015. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/279007-clinical>.

"Testicular Cancer." American Cancer Society, Testicular Cancer. Feb. 12, 2016. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicularcancer/detailedguide/testicular-cancer-signs-and-symptoms>.