What Is Usually the First Symptom of Testicular Cancer?

Reviewed on 8/6/2020

What is testicular cancer?

The first signs of testicular cancer may be a painless lump, unusual firmness in the affected testicle or dull pain in the groin.
The first signs of testicular cancer may be a painless lump, unusual firmness in the affected testicle or dull pain in the groin.

Testicular cancer arises from the testes. The testicles are responsible for the production of male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. They are located within the scrotum, a loose bag of skin below the penis. Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer occurring in American males between the ages of 15 and 35.

What causes testicular cancer?

The exact cause of testicular cancer is not known. Some factors increase the risk of testicular cancer, such as: 

What are the first symptoms of testicular cancer?

The initial signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • A painless lump in the testicular area
  • The affected testicle feels firmer and harder than the other 
  • Dull aching in the scrotum or the groin

The other signs and symptoms that may develop later include:

  • Formation of blood clots in the blood vessels which can travel to the lungs causing chest pain and breathlessness.
  • Varicocele (swollen blood vessels) appearing as enlarged, dark blue veins
  • Hydrocele (Fluid around the testicle) causing swelling
  • Infection of the testicle, causing pain
  • Injury of the testes
  • Twisting of the testicle  (torsion)

What are the types of testicular cancer?

Most testicular cancers are germ cell (cells that produce sperm) tumors. There are two main types of testicular cancer:

Seminomas grow and spread slowly. There are two subtypes: 

  • Classical seminoma: This is the most common and usually happens in men ages 25 to 45.
  • Spermatocytic seminoma: Commonly occurs in older men and usually does not spread.

Nonseminomas grow and spread more quickly. They usually consist of multiple types of cancer cells, including: 


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How is testicular cancer diagnosed?

Self-examination can help in early diagnosis and treatment. Affected testes are enlarged, firm and usually painless. 

The physician performs a complete physical assessment if their patient complains of these testicular symptoms. Complete blood and radiological assessment is performed. 

  • Blood Tests
    • Alpha Fetoprotein levels (Alpha FP)
    • Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin levels (hCG)
    • Lactate Dehydrate Hydrogenase levels (LDH)
  • Testicular USG
  • Testicular CT Scan
  • Lymphangiography to study tumor spread in lymph node
  • A biopsy is usually performed to confirm the diagnosis. It is a minimally invasive procedure that involves obtaining a small sample of the testicle and examining the cells for cancer.

How is testicular cancer treated?

Testicular cancer is highly treatable, even when cancer has spread beyond the testicle. The treatment may involve one or a combination of multiple treatment modalities, which depends on the extent of the disease.

The treatment options include the following:

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