Cancer of the testicles--egg-shaped sex glands in the scrotum that secrete male hormones and produce sperm--accounts for only about 1 percent of all cancers in men, according to the National Cancer Institute. However, in men aged 15 to 34, it ranks as the most common cancer. For unknown reasons, the disease is about four times more common in white men than in black men.
Detection and Diagnosis:
Most testicular tumors are discovered by patients themselves--either by accident, or while performing a self-examination on each testicle. The usual presentation is of an enlarged, painless lump. Occasionally there can be pain. The lump typically is pea-sized, but sometimes it might be as big as a marble or even an egg.
Besides lumps, if a man notices any other abnormality--an enlarged testicle, a feeling of heaviness or sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, or enlargement or tenderness of the breasts--he should discuss it with a physician right away. These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer, but only a doctor can tell for sure, and it is critical to seek attention promptly.
Physicians have various methods to help diagnose testicular cancer. Often a physical exam can rule out disorders other than cancer. Imaging techniques can help indicate possible tumors. One such method is ultrasound, which creates a picture from echoes of high-frequency sound waves bounced off internal organs. This method is a painless, noninvasive way to check for a mass.