What is a testicular mass?

An abnormal growth in a testicle is known as a testicular mass. A testicle is a reproductive gland in men and most men have two of these glands contained in the scrotum or scrotal sac. Sometimes a man will be able to feel the lump or it may be discovered during a routine physical exam. Testicular masses can be benign or malignant. For this reason, each lump must be diligently examined by a medical professional to discover its nature.

A testicular lump or mass can be caused by fluid buildup. Sometimes the fluid is made up mostly of dead sperm. This type of mass is called a spermatocele. Often the excess clear fluid will collect and form a cyst around the testicle and this type of growth is known as a hydrocele. In general, both a spermatocele and a hydrocele are considered benign or noncancerous growths.

A mass can also be caused by a varicocele. This type of mass forms due to an enlarged vein in the scrotum. Another type of testicular mass can develop due to a collection of blood in the areas surrounding the testicle. These masses, known as hematoceles, are commonly seen after injury to the area.

Other common causes of a testicular mass include epididymitis and an inguinal hernia. Epididymitis occurs when the epididymis becomes inflamed, often due to infection. This is the structure that carries sperm. Additionally, an inguinal hernia can also cause abnormal growth. This type of hernia is actually made of small intestine passing through weak areas in the groin and forming a mass in a testicle or scrotum.

One of the most serious causes of a testicular mass is a malignant tumor. Although any man can get testicular cancer, it is generally more common in younger men. A biopsy of a testicular tumor may be done to confirm that it is malignant. As soon as the malignancy is discovered, a treatment plan will be put in place. This may include surgery to remove the testicle and, if necessary, chemotherapy or radiation.

The symptoms of a testicular mass can be the same whether the mass is a malignant or benign tumor. For some men, the lump may be noticeably visible. There may also be pain and a strong sensation in the scrotum. Sometimes there can also be a significant amount of swelling and tenderness. In certain cases, an individual may have a testicular mass and not show any symptoms.

A complete medical examination will be performed on a man with a testicular mass. Most doctors will order an imaging test, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan, to see inside the testicle. A fluid-filled mass may not need treatment or a simple drainage procedure. Larger masses that are particularly troublesome may need to be removed surgically. Ideally, a man should perform monthly testicular self-exams to increase the chance of detecting abnormal growth as early as possible.

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