Testicular Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, see your doctor without delay. Many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by something other than testicular cancer. But if a tumor is the cause, the sooner it is found, the sooner you can start treatment and the more effective it is likely to be. For more information, see our document Do I Have Testicular Cancer?

Lump or swelling in the testicle

Most often, the first symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on the testicle, or the testicle becomes swollen or larger. (It’s normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other, and for one to hang lower than the other.) Some testicular tumors might cause pain, but most of the time they do not. Men with testicular cancer can also have a feeling of heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or scrotum.

Breast growth or soreness

In rare cases, germ cell tumors can cause the breasts to grow or become sore. This occurs because certain types of germ cell tumors secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.

Some Leydig cell tumors can make estrogens (female sex hormones), which can cause breast growth or loss of sexual desire.

Early signs of puberty in boys

Some Leydig cell tumors can make androgens (male sex hormones). Androgen-producing tumors may not cause any specific symptoms in men, but in boys they can cause signs of puberty at an abnormally early age, such as a deepening of the voice and the growth of facial and body hair.

Symptoms of advanced testicular cancers

Even if testicular cancer has spread to other parts of the body, many men might not have symptoms right away. Lower back pain can be a sign that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen. Cancer that has spread to the lungs can cause trouble breathing (shortness of breath), chest pain, or a cough (sometimes with blood). Some cancers might cause abdominal pain, either from enlarged lymph nodes or metastasis (spread) to the liver. In rare cases, testicular cancer spreads to the brain and can cause headaches.

Some men with testicular cancer have no symptoms at all, and their cancer is found during medical testing for other conditions. Sometimes imaging tests done to find the cause of infertility can uncover a small testicular cancer.

A number of non-cancerous conditions, such as testicle injury or inflammation, can cause symptoms similar to those of testicular cancer. Inflammation of the testicle (known as orchitis) and inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) can cause swelling and pain of the testicle. Both of these also can be caused by viral or bacterial infections.

Last Medical Review: 11/01/2013
Last Revised: 02/11/2014