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Signs & Symptoms of Testicular Cancer


More than ninety percent of patients present with a painless lump or mass in the testicle. Patients may also notice a sensation of heaviness in the scrotum or lower abdominal aching. Scrotal enlargement or swelling is also common in patients with testicular cancer.

Some patients with testicular cancer have no symptoms at all, especially in the early stage. Their cancer may be found incidentally during routine physical exams, such as ultra sound test or biopsy for diagnosis of infertility.

Certain types of testicular cancers, i.e., germ cell tumors, can secrete high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG), which stimulates breast development. One of the uncommon symptoms for testicular cancer patients is breast tenderness or breast growth. This symptom results from the abnormal secretion of HCG from certain types of testicular cancer. Blood tests can measure HCG levels; these tests are important in diagnosis, staging, and in follow-up of some testicular cancers.

Two types of testicular tumors, Leydig cell tumors and Sertoli cell tumors, may produce androgens (male sex hormones) or estrogens (female sex hormones). Estrogen can cause breast growth in men and cause decreased libido (loss of sexual desire). Over production of androgen may or may not cause any specific symptoms in adult males; however, it can cause growth of facial and body hair at an abnormally early age.


Even with metastatic disease (when cancer has spread to other organs), only about 25% of patients may experience symptoms related to the metastasis before the diagnosis. The most common place for the disease spread is to the lymph nodes in the posterior part of the abdomen. Therefore, lower back pain is a frequent symptom of later-stage testicular cancer. If the cancer has spread to the lungs, cough, chest pain, and/or shortness of breath can occur. Hemoptysis (sputum with blood) may also develop.

The above is a summary of symptoms and signs of testicular cancer. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, such as testicle injury or testicle infection. Inflammation of the testicle, known as orchitis, can cause painful swelling. Causes of orchitis include viral or bacterial infections. About 1 man in 5 who contracts mumps as an adult experiences orchitis in one or both testes. However, it is important to see a physician if any of these symptoms lasts 10 days or longer. Early diagnosis of testicular cancer is extremely important.

  • A lump or mass in either testicle
  • Any enlargement or swelling of a testicle
  • A collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen, back, or in the groin
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • Discomfort or pain in a testicle or in the scrotum
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts

Risk Factors? Who has the highest risk of developing testicular cancer?

:: Learn More About Diagnosing and Staging of Testicular Cancer ::

Testicular cancer is rare. Despite a slow increase in the number of new cases, the number of deaths due to testicular cancer has decreased dramatically since the 1960s as a result of treatment improvements. Anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease is called a risk factor. Some risk factors for testicular cancer are as follows: Age - Young men have a higher risk of testicular cancer. In men, testicular cancer is the most common cancer between the ages of 20 to 34, the second most common cancer between the ages of 35 to 39, and the third most common cancer between the ages of 15 to 19. Family History - Men with a family history of testicular cancer may have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer. Hereditary Conditions - Men born with gonadal dysgenesis or Klinefelter's syndrome have a greater risk of developing testicular cancer. Personal History - Men with undescended testicles have a higher-than-average risk of developing testicular cancer. Men who have already had testicular cancer have a higher risk of developing a tumor in the other testicle. Race - Testicular cancer is more common among white men than black men. Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian men develop testicular cancer at a higher rate than black men, but less than white men.