What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?

Expert Answer

Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, who is responsible for Caring.com's coverage of cancer, general health, and family finance, discovered how important it is to provide accurate, targeted, usable health information to people facing difficult decisions.

Testicular cancer is hard to diagnose early, because so often it's asymptomatic. In fact, one in four men with testicular cancer report having no symptoms, even after the cancer has metastasized, or spread. So doctors suggest that men report any strange symptoms in the testicular or abdominal area as soon they appear and get them checked out, since often a medical exam is the only way to detect testicular cancer. Signs of testicular cancer include:

  • Lumps or swelling (usually painless) in the testicles

  • Pain in the testicular area

"ยข Sudden enlargement of a testicle

  • A heavy, "pulling" sensation in the scrotum

  • Dull pain or ache in the abdomen or groin

  • Lower back pain

Other signs reported by testicular cancer patients:

The most common kind of testicular cancer is a germ cell tumor, which grows in the cells that produce sperm. Germ cell tumors sometimes make a hormone called HCG, causing a hormonal imbalance. The result can be additional symptoms such as:

  • growth of male breasts
  • male breast tenderness

The other type of testicular tumor starts in cells called Leydig cells, and can lead to overproduction of the hormones estrogen or androgen. The result can be breast growth and loss of sexual desire in the case of too much estrogen, or overgrowth of facial hair if there's too much androgen.