June 3, 2010 5:28 PM   Subscribe

YAHopefullyAD -- Testicular cancer self-exams: I know I'm looking for "lumps." Define these "lumps." Big? Small? Hard? Tender? What?!

FWIW, I'm 21, no history of TC in family, and reasonably fit. I woke up with a somewhat sore left nut today and the pain is still persisting. It's entirely possible my dog stepped on my nuts; I rolled on them; I knocked them lightly playing basketball last night.

I just want to be sure I'm going about this self-examination deal the right way. And also because the little hypochondriac in my head is lighting flares and calling for backup.
posted by the NATURAL to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You could have an infection in your testicle, too, not that that's very reassuring either, so if your pain persists, you should see your GP.

Here's what the Mayo Clinic says you're looking for.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:08 PM on June 3, 2010

IANAD(Y), but it sounds like your testicles have had quite the time yesterday! Generally speaking, a painful testicle usually doesn't mean there's an issue with cancer. But, good on you for being thoughtful enough to check for lumps and bumps. I'd follow a guide, like this one, and just feel all over for anything (other than the epididymus, on the backside of each testicle) that doesn't feel smooth and kinda rubbery. If you find something, check with your doctor; he/she can arrange an ultrasound that'll usually provide more info as to what's going on.

If the pain is really bad, or it gets worse, please consider going to the ER. Some conditions, like testicular torsion, start with a whole lot of pain, and if not treated soon, can result in loss of the testicle. If it doesn't go away soon, seeing a doctor would be a good idea. As fairytale says, it could be an infection.
posted by greatgefilte at 6:16 PM on June 3, 2010

Mostly what you're looking for with self-examination are dynamic lumps-- that is, lumps aren't as significant as change is.

Of all the causes of sore nuts, testicular cancer is on the unlikelier side of things. But it's good that you've become interested in self-examination. Self-examination isn't of much use unless you do it regularly, though, because you have to know how your testicles feel-- you need a baseline to identify future changes.
posted by nathan v at 6:39 PM on June 3, 2010

First, I'm not a doctor.

Sometimes a urinary tract infection shows through testicular pain. That's solved by (A) getting an antibiotic from a doctor and (B) staying hydrated, especially with cranberry juice.

If it hurts in 24 hours or if the pain gets worse, just go to a doctor. If you're in college, your school's clinic may agree to see you for free.
posted by jander03 at 7:12 PM on June 3, 2010

If your left nut feels like a "bag of worms" and generally has a dull ache running through, it could be a varicocele, which is annoying but not life threatening.
posted by holterbarbour at 7:27 PM on June 3, 2010

You know, testicular self-examination is fairly controversial. The American Cancer Society does not recommend it, and the USPSTF actually recommends against any routine testicular cancer screening approaches in men who are not at increased risk (based on family or personal history of testicular cancer or undescended testes). The reason for this is that there is no data on an epidemiological level to support it. But on a practical level, it's hard for anyone short of a urologist to tell what is palpably abnormal unless it's obvious. In other words, unless something feels clearly abnormal or new to you, there's a good chance it's nothing other than a source of anxiety.

In any event, if you choose to screen yourself for testicular cancer with self-examination, you should do so regularly, so that you can feel for changes. You should certainly not be feeling up your testicles for cancer after a potential recent injury. Testicular cancer is usually painless at least until the very late stages, by the way.
posted by drpynchon at 9:08 PM on June 3, 2010

My father-in-law had testicular cancer years ago. He first noticed something amiss when he went out on his tractor to do something or other (he lives on a farm but he didn't use the tractor regularly). When he sat on the hard seat he felt "something" in his scrotal area. It wasn't painful, but it was uncomfortable. He ultimately had surgery and radiation and alive and well today 20-some years later. PS I normally don't discuss my in-laws privates, I just happened to be in the room when he was telling Mr. Adams about it because testicular cancer can run in families and Mr. A had asked his dad about his original symptoms.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:38 AM on June 4, 2010

MeFi at it's best. An answer to my question as well as all the other possible solutions.

And FWIW, my ball pain went away after two or three days -- I'm still in the dark as to what caused it, but the main thing is that it's gone. (I suspected the little hypochondriac upstairs was just being dramatic.) Thanks for the help, MeFites <3
posted by the NATURAL at 3:41 AM on June 12, 2010

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