Symptoms and diagnosis of testicular cancer

Man in hospital with a pain

Testicular cancer symptoms

If the cancer is only in the testicle:

  • A painless lump or swelling in a testicle
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum, groin or abdomen (tummy)
  • An enlarged testicle or change in the way your testicle feels
  • A heavy feeling in your scrotum

If the cancer has spread outside the testicle:

  • A dull ache in your back
  • Pain in your tummy (abdomen)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen lymph glands in the abdomen, groin or chest

About 1 in 10 testicular cancers has spread outside the testicle when it is diagnosed. 

All these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer. Most swellings in the scrotum are not cancer. But it’s important to go to the GP and get any lumps or unusual changes checked out.

Can I be screened for testicular cancer?

Testing for cancer when you have no symptoms is called screening. There is no national screening programme in Ireland. Go to your GP if you’re worried about testicular cancer.

Diagnosing testicular cancer

Your family doctor (GP) will talk to you about your symptoms and examine you. Your GP will refer you to hospital if they think you need more tests. Other tests you might have include:

Ultrasound of the testicle

Passing a probe over your testicles to produce a picture of the tissues inside your scrotum. It can show if any lump is likely to be cancer or not. It’s normal for both your testicles to be scanned.

Blood tests

Blood tests can spot ‘tumour markers’– chemicals released by some testicular cancers. Tumour markers include Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), Beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (bHCG) and Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).

Removing the testicle (orchidectomy)

Usually your doctor will remove the testicle if cancer is even suspected. The lump from the testicle is then examined under a microscope to see if it contains cancer cells. 

You may also have a CT scan. This is a type of X-ray that can help to show if the cancer has spread.


A urologist is a doctor who specialises in treating problems with the testicles, prostate, bladder and kidney.

For more information

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