8 Silent Signs of Testicular Cancer You Should Never Ignore

Updated: Jul. 16, 2018

Testicular cancer afflicts one in 263 men. Knowing the symptoms could save your life.

iStock/Jacob Wackerhausen

You have a painless lump in your testicle

One of the most common testicular cancer symptoms is a pain-free mass in the testicle, according to Joseph Harryhill, MD, an assistant clinical professor of urology at the University of Pennsylvania. “It is important for men to realize that a tumor often does not cause any significant discomfort—thus the importance of regular testicular self examination,” Harryhill said. Many times men will not notice the mass until they receive an unrelated injury, bringing the tumor to their attention. Moral of the story: Make sure you check yourself regularly for lumps and bumps. Don’t miss these other cancer symptoms men are all too likely to ignore.


You feel a heaviness in your scrotum

Although you may not feel pain, scrotum heaviness is one of the hallmark testicular cancer symptoms.  “Some men describe a heaviness or dragging sensation in the scrotum, and this should be reported to the primary health care provider,” Harryhill said. A lingering ache or odd dragging sensation in your testicles is not something to ignore.

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Your son is going through early puberty

Some testicular tumors produce androgen, a male sex hormone that causes signs of puberty in young men. Young boys who experience voice deepening and hair growth too early may have testicular cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. In order to protect your family, make sure to be aware of any unusual changes in your child’s growth.


Your nipples are tender

You may think that only women have discomfort and tenderness in their breasts. However, men with testicular cancer symptoms can also exhibit breast tenderness, discharge, or even growth. A testicular tumor produces a protein that can cause these reactions in the chest region of men, according to Shilajit Kundu, MD, an associate professor of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Instead of being embarrassed by breast growth or discharge, take it as a warning sign from your body, and talk to your doctor. Here are the cancer warning signs your doctor shouldn’t ignore.


Your testicle is changing shape

A change in size of one testicle compared to the other is a silent sign of testicular cancer, according to Dr. Kundu. Of course, it is normal for one testicle to be larger or hang differently than its companion. However, if you notice unusual swelling or bloating in one testicle make an appointment with your health care provider.


You have fluid in your scrotum

It can be normal for fluid to gather in your scrotum, but pay attention if it lasts for more than a week. Dr. Kundu explains that a sudden onset of fluid can be a reaction that indicates a testicular tumor. Hydrocele, a condition where a sac of fluid forms around the scrotum, causes little discomfort and goes away without treatment. However, if you have fluid in your scrotum for weeks, and other testicular cancer symptoms, you should not wait to see a doctor.


Your back aches and you’re coughing

Cancer metastasizes when it begins to spread to other parts of the body. This means the cancer is advancing, spreading into the bloodstream. Harryhill said that 10 to 20 percent of men with testicular cancer initially complain of symptoms unrelated to the testicles. A lump in the neck may also be a sign that the cancer metastasizing to your lymph nodes. If you exhibit these symptoms be sure to give yourself an examination for any lumps and visit the doctor.  These are the sneaky places you could get skin cancer—that aren’t on your skin. 


You have a stomach ache

Lower belly pain, along with the other silent symptoms, can be a sign of advanced testicular cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, enlarged lymph nodes and the spreading of the cancer to the liver cause belly pain. Next, check out these common symptoms of colon cancer you might be missing.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest