A testicular lump is a mass that develops in or on the testicles. This could be caused by injuries, infections, benign tumors and sometimes cancer of the testicles. It is therefore important to learn more on how to tell the difference between a harmless and a harmful testicular lump.
Testicular lumps can affect men from all ages. They can develop on one or both testicles. A majority of testicular lumps do not require specialized medical treatment. They do resolve on their own, given enough time.
Self-examination involves physically checking for the presence of lumps in the testicles. There is no enough evidence as to whether such tests are actually helpful in regards to reducing mortality due to lumps in the testicles, especially due to testicular cancer. However, it is known that cancer lumps are easier to treat when discovered early enough.
This article discusses the topic on what does a Testicular Lump look & feel like, causes, diagnosis, symptoms, treatments. It also discusses tips on how to go about self-examination for testicular lumps.
What does a testicular lump feel like?
First, let’s briefly discuss what normal testicles feel like. Healthy testicles feel smooth and soft. They are described as shaped like an egg. Testicles measure about 1.5 inches long. A healthy testicle should feel firm but should not feel fixed or hard. On top to back of each testicle, a soft, highly coiled tube can be felt. It is known as the epididymis. It is normal to have one testicle a bit larger or hanging lower than the other one.
There are a number of reasons as to why a testicular lump may occur. The actual cause determines how the lump will feel like. So as to what a testicular lump feels like, below are the tips that can help:
If you feel a lump resembling an enlarged vein, you probably are dealing with varicocele. This is a condition that causes the veins in the testicles to enlarge, much like varicose veins in lower legs. Varicocele is more common in years following puberty.
A testicular lump that feels hard to touch could be an epididymal cyst. The cyst develops when the epididymis clog with fluid or sperm (spermatocele). Lump due to epididymal cyst is not painful and resolves on its own.
A testicular lump that feels terribly painful to touch can be due to testicular torsion. Testicular torsion mostly occurs after an injury causes the testicle to twist inside the scrotum. Testicular torsion requires urgent medical treatment to avoid the possibility of infertility and other complications.
A testicular lump can also feel like a sac filled with fluid. If so, it could be due to hydrocele. It is a common condition in prematurely born babies. Hydrocele occurs when fluid accumulates in the testicles.
You may also feel the presence of a lump, not on the testicles but just about the groin region. If the lump tends to disappear when lying down, it is most likely due to hernia. Hernia occurs when a part of the bowel pushes the groin skin.
A pea sized lump on testicle may be caused by lipoma. Lumps due to lipoma feel soft, movable and rubbery to touch. This is mostly because they basically are small masses of fat accumulated under the skin. Lipoma is not harmful.
A lump that feels more like a swelling or an inflammation could be due to bacterial or viral infection. Such a lump will be painful, sore and tender or soft to touch.
Finally, you may notice a lump that feels hard, fixed and irregularly shaped. Chances are that the lump is due to testicular cancer. In most cases, cancer lumps are not painful until much later.
What does a testicular lump look like?
Self-examination includes looking your testicles in the mirror for signs of any lumps. But what does a testicular lump look like? Well, it will depend on how large it is, its cause and where it is located.
A lump due to viral or bacterial infection will be red, sore and inflamed. It is common to have more than one sore, especially in the case of an STD.
It is not common for a lump in the testicles to be easily visible. This is because common causes of testicular lumps do not lead to formation of large size lumps.
If you notice a lump that gains enough mass to be noticed easily, it is best that you get your doctor to check it. Cancerous tumors exhibit the characteristic of growing larger indefinitely.
There are many illustrative online testicular lump pictures that can help with self-diagnosis.
What does a testicular lump feel like; how to perform self-examination
There are different ways in which you can perform self-examination for testicular lumps. Below are the steps:
- Start with standing in front of the mirror. Check for any signs of swelling, sore or redness on the scrotal skin.
- Use the middle and the index fingers to hold the bottom of the scrotal sac, and the fingers on the upper side.
- Gently enough roll the testicles between the fingers. Testicles should not feel painful unless squeezed a little bit too hard.
- You are likely to feel the epididymis on top and at the back of the testicles. This should not be mistaken for a lump. Any healthy testicle should have the epididymis.
This self-exam is best done after shower. It is than that the testicles and the scrotal sac are relaxed. After a shower, you may have noticed that the testicles are loosely hanging in the scrotal sac.
See a doctor if:
- You feel an abnormal mass in either or both testicles
- There is pain in the testicles when gently squeezed
- one of the testicles feels heavier than the other
- you experience slight or dull pain in the lower stomach
- you notice signs of early puberty, including enlarged breasts
- Other lumps show up or have been on other body parts. You find that a seemingly harmless hard lump in earlobe or a lump on neck under chin could be a sign of cancer.
There are other signs of diseases and infections such as blood in urine, fever, swollen lymph glands, sudden loss of weight, chills and general weakness. If you are to experience such signs, see your doctor immediately.
Where is a testicular cancer lump located?
When doing a self-exam, it is important to know what to look for and where to look for it. So where is a testicular cancer lump located?
A testicular cancer lump can start inside the testicles or on the testicles. When inside the testicles, a hard and firmly fixed lump will develop. The lump will not move even when pressed. It is likely that a swelling will be noticed on the side of the testicle where the lump is located.
If the cancer lump is to develop inside the testicle, the affected testicle will continuously become bigger, compared to the other one. The testicle will also feel heavier and hang lower. The part of the scrotum covering the affected testicle may become scaly.
The most common characteristic of cancer lumps is the tendency to continue gaining mass indefinitely. Cancer undergoes three main stages. At stage I, the cells are only in the affected organ. It is at this stage that cancer is most treatable. At stage II, the cancer cells have spread into the lymphatic system. Here, most lymph nodes terminals will swell. This may cause a painful lump in groin. At stage III, the cancer cells have spread to other body organs like the liver, brain, lungs and stomach. This stage exhibits symptoms such as voice hoarseness, loss of weight, pain in the belly, headaches and confusion. It is the most difficult stage of cancer to treat. By the time cancer cells have migrated to the brain, the patient will experience painful lump on back of head, in armpit, in throat and behind ears. These are all locations of lymph node terminals.
Diagnosis and treatment for testicular lumps
Your doctor can identify some testicular lumps after physical examination and from symptoms. An ultrasound may be used to check if a lump is cancerous or due to lipoma. Blood tests are necessary to check for the presence of infections. If doubts still exist, a biopsy will be considered.
Benign tumors such as cysts and lipoma can be left to resolve on their own. Cysts can however be drained if they get painful such as after being irritated. It is common to have a cyst, one of the common causes of hard lumps under the chin, in the armpit and on the scalp. Infections are treated with antibiotics or antiviral medications. Large lumps can be removed through surgery. In fact, surgical removal of tumors is perhaps the most successful treatment option. It not only gets rid of the tumor but also increase the chances that the tumor will not come back.