Testicular Cancer: Knowing the Signs

When it comes to testicular cancer, early detection can save lives. Performing routine self-checks is one easy step you can take to protect your health.

The testicles are two small organs found inside the scrotum and behind the penis, responsible for producing sperm and testosterone. They are considered part of the male reproductive system and play a large role in physical development.

Self-exams provide the opportunity to know how your testicles look and feel while they are healthy. This way, if there is a change, you can report them to your provider for further examination.

Testicular conditions can develop slowly over time, with some changes being very subtle. They can also range in severity, like a simple infection, benign cyst or a less common condition, such as testicular cancer. Some conditions start as small, pea-size masses that can grow much larger, causing pain and discomfort.

Doctors recommend self-exams be performed on a monthly basis. While standing, you should look and feel for hard lumps and changes in size, shape or consistency. Most testicular conditions occur in just one testicle, so comparison between the two may be helpful in your examination.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If you notice any changes while performing your self-exam, it may be time to call your primary care provider. Additionally, if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A dull ache in the abdomen, back or groin
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Pain, swelling or discomfort in your testicles or scrotum
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
  • Numbness in your testicles or scrotum

If you are concerned about your testicular health, contact your primary care provider today or visit our website for more information.

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Article by:

Jamie Messer, M.D.

Jamie C. Messer, M.D., joined the Department of Urology at the University of Louisville in September, 2012. Dr. Messer is certified by the American Board of Urology and specializes in Urologic Oncology. Dr. Messer is a native Kentuckian and earned his medical degree at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He completed his urology residency at Penn State University and his urologic oncology fellowship at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Dr. Messer's interests are urothelial cancer, both upper and lower tract, as well as renal cell carcinoma. Dr. Messer also serves as site director for the urology residency program and University of Louisville Hospital. At the University of Louisville, he is an associate professor at the School of Medicine in the Department of Urology. 

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