Inspite of various cancer awareness campaigns, every man still dreads upon that “lump on testicle” scenario. The concept that all testicle lumps are cancerous, is one of the most sought after myths probably arising from fear and lack of information.
Well, early this year, I talked about key cancer warnings that should never be ignored and when it comes to testicular cancer particularly, we see lump on a testicle as the one of the key testicular cancer warning signs. Of course it is! But if you find a lump on your testicle, however, don’t panic.
According to recent research carried by the American Cancer Society, four out of five testicular lump examinations are benign, meaning, they were harmless and certainly not cancerous.
And this is almost the same graph that tend to appear in Tanzania. However, precaution should be taken.
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is painless lump on or in a testicle. If your lump is painful, it is good news. Although few of the testicular tumors might cause pain, but most of the time they don’t. Men with testicular cancer may also have a heavy aching in the lower belly or scrotum.
There are actually a lot of possible explanations for lumps on or in your testis beside cancer. Problems other than cancer, can cause lumps to appear. Because it is hard to figure out the cause based on symptoms alone; it is important to have testicular or scrotal change checked by a healthcare provider.
There are plenty of conditions that can cause a testicle lump, swelling, and/or pain, these are:
One of the most common conditions that can cause testicular lump is called torsion of the testicle. In testicular torsion, one of the testicles gets twisted inside the scrotum. This cuts off the blood supply to the testicle, epididymis, and other structures, leading to sudden, severe pain in the scrotum along with swelling and redness. In rare cases it may also cause belly pain, nausea and vomiting.
Testicular torsion occurs most often in teen boys, but may occur later in life. Torsion is a medical emergency that needs to be treated right away. Surgery is needed to untwist the testicle, which restores the blood supply. If the torsion is not treated within several hours, the testicle may die and will have to be removed.
Physical injury and infection may also trigger testicle lump and pain. Physical injury to the scrotum or testicle, can cause pain right away, or it may cause gradual pain and swelling later on. Sometimes treatment may be needed to stop the bleeding , but the problem may get better on its own. A testicular injury can be painful but it does not cause cancer.
Certain infections in the scrotum can sometimes cause lump and painful sensation in or on the testicle. And these are usually caused by bacteria or viruses. For instance, there is this type of infection, which in medical language is known as ‘epididymitis’. This is the inflammation of epididymis, the coiled tube next to each testicle that stores sperm. This can be caused by sexually transmitted infection, but it can also be caused by other types of infection. Epididymitis can cause pain and swelling on one side of the scrotum. The pain tends to come on slowly and it may spread to the side or back.
This is not to say that finding a lump, thickening or change in or on your testicle is not serious. For anybody who finds a lump in or on their testis, should seek medical advise immediately.
The author is a medical doctor based in Dar es Salaam.