A pain in your nether regions may not always mean testicular cancer, but here’s how you can keep a lookout.
Cancer is a deadly condition that continues to claim millions of lives across the globe. While cancer treatments, as well as outcomes, have significantly improved over the years, no one wants to be diagnosed with cancer.
It is very natural to worry about the treatment, potential side effects, and the long-term outcome that a cancer diagnosis can have on your life. While there are many types of cancers out there, testicular cancer is arguably the most common cancer among men aged between 15 and 44 years. Research shows that testicular cancer represents nearly 2% of all cancers in men, but remains one of the most common cancers affecting young men in Singapore and globally.
What is testicular cancer?
Your testes, or simply balls, contain primitive cells that mature with time to become cells that make sperm or spermatozoa, which are very important in sexual reproduction. What's more, your testes contain other supporting cells that manufacture enzymes as well as other fluids that allow your sperm to remain healthy and function optimally. These cells can become cancerous, causing tumors that are what we call testicular cell cancers.
How can I prevent testicular cancer?
The best thing you can do is to examine your testes perhaps after every month, and if something doesn't seem right, you'll have to immediately seek an appointment with your doctor. Here’s a self test you can do: Roll one of your testes between your thumb and fingers. Repeat the same with the other side. If you notice a change in either shape or size, a lump that wasn't there previously, or if they are very painful to touch, kindly seek an appointment with your doctor. Of course, you should not panic! But just have it examined as soon as possible.
So, what are the most common symptoms of testicular cancer?
The most common symptom associated with testicular cancer is the presence of lumps. Even though a lump doesn't always signify cancer, if you notice a visible change in your testicles, you should always seek medical attention. Besides lumps, you should be mindful of the following potential testicular cancer symptoms.
Testicular cancer can potentially lead to changes to how your scrotum feels. For example, your testicles could start to feel somewhat heavier, or have a feeling of fullness.
Scrotal or leg swelling
A testicular cancerous tumor can also cause both blood and other fluids in your body to have a reduced flow, resulting in swelling. This swelling can occur in your groin, testicle, or even in your leg.
It is also worth noting that testicular cancers can be characterized by a painless lump but sometimes one may experience some discomfort in the affected testicle. Regardless, it is also important to mention that pain isn't always the first major symptom of testicular cancer!
Enlargement or tenderness
in some instances, testicular cancers are caused by tumors on your body's germ cells. These cells are known to secrete hormones, including HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin. When the levels of HCG build up in the body, it can make your breasts grow, known as gynecomastia. This may be accompanied by breast soreness.
If cancer spreads to your spine by lymphatic drainage.
Why do my balls hurt?
Most importantly, it is worth noting that having a painful crotch doesn't entirely imply that you are suffering from testicular cancer. This is because the symptoms of many other medical conditions can strikingly resemble those of testicular cancer. Your doctor will first try to rule out these conditions before going on to diagnose testicular cancer.
These conditions include:
This is a condition that occurs when your scrotum becomes filled with fluid, which can cause testicular heaviness, swelling as well as discomfort.
Epididymitis is an inflammation of your epididymis, a duct that allows sperm to pass through it. This particular condition usually results in symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and swelling. On most occasions, it is caused by the effects of a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea.
A blow or any other form of injury to your testicle can potentially cause symptoms that are similar to those associated with testicular cancer. An injury can force blood to leak from your testicle and into the scrotum, leading to infection.
This can happen due to injury or unknown factors that result in the affected testicle becoming twisted.
This is a condition that causes one or both of your testicles to become swollen. Common symptoms of orchitis include blood in the semen, testicular pain, pain with ejaculation or urination, and perhaps tenderness of the groin.
This condition occurs when an area of your intestine moves through the abdominal wall, causing swelling, pain, and a lump in your groin.
Having problems with your testicles or the groin area, in general, does not entirely signify that you may be having testicular cancer. There are other medical conditions that can display symptoms that are more or less similar to those of testicular cancer. So, if you find yourself experiencing some or all of the previously mentioned symptoms, you should not be alarmed that you have testicular cancer!
In the event you have testicular cancer, you should not worry too much either. Thanks to the technological advancements in the medical industry, there are different treatment options for testicular cancer, which are quite highly effective.
How is testicular cancer treated?
Some of the most common treatment options for testicular cancer include,
When testicular cancer is detected in the inguinal orchiectomy test, the affected testicle is usually eliminated altogether. Chemotherapy is always applied after this surgery to ensure any cancerous cells that survive after the surgery are destroyed.
EBRT is generally used to treat cancerous cells, including testicular tumors.
Chemotherapeutic compounds are designed to kill cancerous cells with little to no effects on the surrounding healthy cells. You need to know that chemotherapy is only used if the cancer is advanced and has spread to other organs such as the liver or
The bottom line
While it can be quite stressful and nerve-wracking to be diagnosed with cancer, it is important to note that testicular cancer is curable, especially if the condition is detected early enough. While self-examination is very important, always feel free to tell your doctor if you notice anything suspicious with your testicles.
Remember, early detection is key for your successful treatment!
- Cheng, L., Albers, P., Berney, D. M., Feldman, D. R., Daugaard, G., Gilligan, T., & Looijenga, L. (2018). Testicular cancer. Nature reviews. Disease primers, 4(1), 29. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41572-018-0029-0
- Baird, D. C., Meyers, G. J., & Hu, J. S. (2018). Testicular Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment. American family physician, 97(4), 261–268.
This article was written and medically reviewed by Dr Ben, M.D on 14/07/21