Testicular lump is an abnormal mass or a swelling in one or both the testes. Testicles are small egg shaped reproductive organs in males. The two testicles hang just underneath the penis in a bag like structure called scrotum. The main function of testis is to produce and store sperm. It also secretes male sex hormone testosterone.
A mass in testis is not uncommon. It can occur in children, adolescent male as well as in an adult. A lump may be present in one or both the testes. There are variable causes for testicular mass, most of them are non cancerous in origin.However, it can also be a sign of testicular cancer. Pain, tenderness, heaviness, swelling are few common symptoms of a testicular lump.
The swelling can be stony hard as in case of cancer of testis or soft as in case of hydrocele. Although most testicular lumps are benign, you should consult your doctor to rule out any other serious cause. Testicular cancer is curable in majority of cases if detected and treated early.
What Can Cause A Lump In The Testicles?
A lump in testicle can occur due to many factors. It can be due to an infection, injury, congenital birth anomaly, or due to testicular malignancy.Some of the common causes are as follows:
- Varicocele: Often referred as ‘bag of worms’, it is collection of dilated tortuous veins in testicles. They are just similar to varicose veins in legs. The veins run along with the spermatic cord from the testis. Varicocele is common between the ages 15 to 25. Varicocele is one the causes for male infertility.
- Hydrocele: Each testis is covered with a protective layer which secretes lubricating fluid that allows free movement of testis inside the scrotum. If there is excess of fluid, it is drained into the scrotal veins. But blockage can occur in case of infection or an injury leading to accumulation of fluid in scrotal bag. This condition is termed as hydrocele. A hydrocele appears like a balloon filled with fluid. A large hydrocele can cause discomfort and mild pain.
- Epididymo-Orchitis: It is an abnormal swelling of epididymis, a small tube that stores sperm in the testicles. Bacterial infection, mostly sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhea causes inflammation of epididmis. Virus infection such as mumps can cause inflammation of testis also known as orchitis.
- Epididymal cyst: A small fluid filled sac in epididymis is called epididymal cyst. It is harmless growth, and usually develops after the age of 40.
- Testicular torsion: Twisting of testicle causes testicular torsion. It is a serious condition and requires immediate treatment. Untreated cases may be life threatening.
- Testicular cancer: Testicular cancer develops when the cells of testicles begin to multiply rapidly and uncontrollably. It usually affects men between the ages of 15 to 45 years. Majority of men diagnosed are under the age of 35 years.
What Does A Testicular Lump Feel Like?
Almost all testicular lumps have two things in common; obvious swelling and change in feel and texture of testis. Rest of the symptoms may depend on the underlying cause. For example a varicocele may rarely cause pain, but the lump feels similar to a bag of worms. It may also cause dragging sensation.
A hydrocele is painless, but the scrotum is enlarged and tense. The skin of scrotum becomes plain and smooth instead of normal wrinkles. An infection in testis can lead to intense pain, swelling, redness, heat, and fever. The testes are extremely tender to touch.
A lump caused due to testicular cancer is stony hard. It gives rise dull pain in testis and lower abdomen. There is sudden accumulation of fluid in the scrotum with heavy sensation. The breast may also become tender.
Treatment Options For Testicular Lump
If you feel a lump or swelling in testis the first thing that needs to be done is to consult your doctor. In case if there is severe pain accompanied with nausea and vomiting, it may be related to testicular torsion. Contact your physician immediately as if left untreated can lead to testicular necrosis, infertility. Your doctor will examine the testis and may recommend certain tests such as sonography of testis for diagnosis of the condition. Biopsy and normal routine blood tests also help in diagnosis of the type of lump.
The treatment of testicular lump may vary, depending on the underlying cause. For example if the cause is varicocele, surgical repair may be necessary to prevent infertility. A small hydrocele is harmless and may not need any intervention. However, if it is big and produces discomfort, pain the fluid is drained with a minor surgery.
Testicular torsion needs to be treated urgently so that the blood flow to the testis is restored and prevent damage. If torsion causes necrosis of testis than the affected testis has to be removed. Epididdymo-orchitis can be treated with oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines. In testicular cancer the affected testis is removed surgically so that cancer cannot spread further. Patient may also require radiation and chemotherapy.