Lump on Testicle: Is It Cancer?

What It May Indicate and What You Should Do About It

Close-up of a young man wiping himself with a towel
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Finding a lump on one of your testicles can be scary. You probably hear about testicular cancer so much that it's only natural to assume that cancer is the culprit. Contrary to common belief, however, testicular cancer is not the most common cause of a lump on your testicle. There are several other explanations for it. 

Why Is There a Lump on My Testicle?

A testicular lump is a mass or swelling that's found on one or both testicles.

They are often found while taking a shower, while performing a testicular self-exam (TSE), or by a partner while engaged in sexual activity. Testicular lumps can be either painless or painful. They can also be movable or immobile.

Typically, men who have testicular cancer experience a painless lump as one of the initial symptoms of the disease. This is not to say that testicular lumps that are related to testicular cancer can't be painful—painful lumps are just much less common.

A painless lump on the testicle can also be related to more common conditions, such as:

  • hydrocele (usually painless unless it grows very large)
  • spermatocele
  • varicocele (usually painless, but may cause a heavy feeling in the testicle)
  • inguinal hernia (which is sometimes painful)

As mentioned, lumps can be painful, too. Again, painful lumps that are associated with testicular cancer aren't very common, but they can occur.

More common causes of a painful testicle lump include:

  • orchitis
  • epididymitis
  • injury to the testicle
  • infection within the scrotum

Testicular Lump Should Not Be Confused With the Epididymis

The epididymis is sometimes mistaken for a small, testicular lump. In actuality, the epididymis is a tube-like structure that joins the testicle with the vas deferens.

You can find the epididymis along the back of each testicle. It is soft and can sometimes be more sensitive than other parts of the testicle or scrotum. But you should never have pain there.

The epididymis can become swollen and inflamed, causing a lump to appear. This condition is called epididymitis and is often a complication of gonorrhea and chlamydia in young men and adults. Lumps that are caused by epididymitis often cause panic, as it's so natural to assume that the lump might be related to testicular cancer.

What to Do If You Find a Testicular Lump

If you discover a lump on your testicle, alert your doctor as soon as possible. While it’s important to be proactive, don’t let anxiety get the best of you—keep in mind that testicular cancer accounts for only one percent of all male cancers and unless you are at a higher risk of developing the disease, the lump on your testicle is most likely related to another condition. It is, however, important to get the lump evaluated anyway in order to discover and treat the underlying cause.

A Word From Verywell

Women are regularly advised to perform a monthly breast self-exam. Similarly, men should also conduct a monthly self-examination of their testicles.

This will help detect growths that could potentially be cancerous. When it's caught in the early stages, testicular cancer is almost always treatable. And if you're especially concerned, educate yourself about the other common symptoms of testicular cancer.

Source:

American Cancer Society. (2016) Do I Have Testicular Cancer?

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