Men’s bits cause lots of trouble. Pain and swelling, infection and cancer of the testicle occur in men of all ages.
At Bristol Urology Associates we offer rapid consultation and diagnosis. We know that once a problem is detected it’s difficult to put it out of your mind. With clinics almost every day of the week we can see most men within 24 hours.
How your testicles look and feel may not be something
you’ve given much thought to. But it pays to be familiar with what’s normal for you, and to know a few potential changes to look out for. This can help you to find lumps and swellings that may be a sign of testicular cancer at an early stage. If testicular cancer is found early, it can almost always be cured.
We then liaise with our colleagues in Oncology to provide men with a comprehensive treatment plan. Testis cancer is more than 95 percent curable.
"The treatment I received at Bristol Urology was outstanding. From the initial consultation through to my procedure I always felt that I was in safe hands."
Excellent as always!
About your testicles
Your testicles, also known as testes, are two small, oval-shaped structures inside your scrotum. Their main role is to produce sperm and the male sex hormone, testosterone. Testosterone gives you your sex drive (libido) and ability to get an erection.
Most lumps you can get in your testicles aren’t testicular cancer and are caused by other things. These include the following.
- An inguinal hernia. This is a weak spot in the muscles of your lower tummy that allows fatty tissue or a bit of your bowel to pop out into your scrotum.
- Hydrocele. This is a collection of fluid in your scrotum.
- Epididymal cysts. These are fluid-filled lumps.
- A varicocele. This is swelling in the scrotum that’s caused by a collection of abnormally large blood vessels.
We can offer on the spot scans and surgery to remove a suspicious testicle within days.
How to be testicle aware
Once you hit puberty, it’s important to check your testicles regularly – ideally, every month. This will help you get an idea of their usual look and feel so if there are any changes, you’ll notice them.
The best time to do it is while you’re in the shower or bath, or just afterwards. The warmth will relax your scrotum and make it easier to feel anything unusual. Here’s what to do.
- Stand in front of a mirror and check if you can see anything unusual like any swelling on the skin.
- Feel the size and weight of each testicle. You may notice that one testicle is larger or hangs lower than the other. This is completely normal.
- Get to know the feel of your testicles by rolling each one between your fingers and thumb. They should feel smooth, without any lumps or swellings.
Compare your testicles with each other – get to know any differences between them.
Towards the top, at the back of each testicle, you’ll feel a soft, tender tube. This is called the epididymis, and stores sperm, so it’s good to remember where it is so you don’t mistake it for a lump. Cancerous lumps don’t usually develop here but on the sides or in front of your testicle. You might also feel a small and firm lump near the top of your testes. This might well be what’s called the Hydatid of Morgagni and is completely normal. But if you’re concerned about any lump, contact your GP for advice.
These symptoms can sometimes be a sign of testicular cancer (but not always). If you have any of them, contact your GP for advice.
Testicle changes to get advice about
When you check your testicles, look for any:
- lump, swelling or hardening – and whether any lumps feel like they’re attached to your testicle or are free-floating
- change in consistency – one may feel like it’s full of fluid, for example
- change in size, shape or weight
Other changes to look out for are:
- a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum
- any pain or a heavy or dull aching feeling in your testicle or scrotum
- dull ache in your groin
These symptoms can sometimes be a sign of testicular cancer (but not always). If you have any of them, contact your GP for advice. Your GP may refer you to the BUA for more specialist advice and accurate diagnosis.
At the BUA we have a state-of-the-art ultrasound machine which can often lead to an instant diagnosis. Occasionally we refer men for more extensive scans to The Bristol Spire or the Nuffield Hospitals.
Almost all men jump to the conclusion that they have testicular cancer but, in fact, that diagnosis is quite rare. Most non-cancerous conditions can be treated either with drug therapy or simple, day case surgery. Chronic infection of the epididymis (one of the coverings of the testicle) is the commonest problem we see at BUA.
Appropriate tests and antibiotics clear the condition in over 80% of men.
Lumps and bumps are usually fluid filled. Most can be either monitored or simply removed.
If the worst does happen, and testicular cancer is detected then you are in safe hands at Bristol Urology Associates. All of the Consultant Urologists perform testicular removal (orchidectomy) and we offer prosthetic surgery (implants) to maintain the cosmetic appearance of the scrotum. Furthermore we have affiliations to the very best oncologists for advice on additional treatments.
Tim Whittlestone is the lead testicular cancer surgeon for the South West and regularly chairs the Testicular Cancer Multi-Disciplinary Team. He offers surgery to remove the spread of testicular cancer tissue (retroperitoneal lymph nodes and metastases) and is a trustee of a major testicular cancer charity.
The aim of treating testicular cancer is speedy diagnosis and rapid treatment. We can offer on the spot scans and surgery to remove a suspicious testicle within days. We then liaise with our colleagues in Oncology to provide men with a comprehensive treatment plan. Testis cancer is more than 95 percent curable.
We are happy to teach men testicular self-examination.