the c-word (not NEARLY as sexy as the l-word)
June 8, 2005 2:32 AM   Subscribe

Ugh. This is not a fun question. So (if you're a guy, at least), you know how you're supposed to do a testicular self-exam once every couple months? Well...

I found a small hard lump, about a third the size of a pea, on my left testicle. Too much information, right? Well, it's your fault for reading. I've got a doctor's appointment to poke and prod at it in the morning (that'll be AWESOME, yes). I've done some research on the topic, and, as far as I can tell, it seems like it's almost certain to be, wait for it... cancer. It's painless, and doesn't seem to be fluid-filled or anything.

I guess I'm just wondering if anyone has any experience with this sort of thing, especially since this is such a potentially sensitive (natch) area. Or if someone miraculously has some other idea about what it could be, something that the American Cancer Society has failed to tell me.

Oy. This summer was going to be so good, too...
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Not to falsely raise your hopes, there is a chance that it could merely be disteneded blood vessels in your scrotum, but considering the nature of the lump, it is a slim chance. The good news is that recovery rates for testicular cancer is a very high, something 95% provided it's caught early enough.
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 3:30 AM on June 8, 2005

I also went through this. My lump turned out to be an epididymal cyst. Upon closer inspection, it's actually separate from the testicle, though it feels like it's "perched" on top of one. It's harmless and the doctor said it will probably be with me my whole life. He said that the lumps I really need to be worried about will be inside the testicle.

That being said, it's very good that you're seeing a doctor so quickly. Best of luck to you!
posted by trey at 3:32 AM on June 8, 2005

I've also had a lump in the sac which turned out to be a cyst and thus not a problem at all. Doctor said I was right to go in straight away though. Best of luck that you get off so easily.
posted by biffa at 4:17 AM on June 8, 2005

Can you update us on how the doctor visit goes?
posted by rolypolyman at 6:21 AM on June 8, 2005

Just to further reassure you, it could also be some sort of calcification. I discovered a lump on my right testicle a few years ago, went to the doctor, had the ultrasound done, and it turned out to be a little 'pearl' of calcified tissue. Then, to my amazement, it came loose and is now floating around my scotum somewhere. Just imagine, another built in thing to play with!

Seriously, though, best of luck. These kind of things can be scary to deal with, but I'm sure you'll pull through.
posted by greatgefilte at 6:36 AM on June 8, 2005

I say thank god the word on self-checking is getting out there. You do this, you find it, and even if it is the big C you're ahead of the curve, because you found it early. The recovery odds are so much better with early detection. Good luck.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:52 AM on June 8, 2005

I have an epididymal cyst as well. It also didn't feel "fluid filled" when I felt it. The doctor was fairly sure that's what it was, and an ultrasound confirmed it.

Obviously only a doctor can say for sure, but don't freak out prematurely.
posted by O9scar at 8:01 AM on June 8, 2005

I can honestly say that this is the first and only time I've "touched myself" while reading MeFi. I'd encourage every other male reader to do the same.

Whatever happens anonymous, best of luck! You've many people thinking of you, whoever you are.
posted by aladfar at 9:54 AM on June 8, 2005

Don't freak out yet: it could easily be a knotted clump of blood vessels, a cyst, or some other innocuous and common lump. Much like you, I once found an odd lump, went and had it checked, and it turned out to be nothing of concern.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2005

Can you update us on how the doctor visit goes?

Unfortunately he can't, unless he wants to drop his anonymity.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:53 PM on June 8, 2005

I'll forward any replies from anonymous if he wants to send them on, email address in my profile, confidentiality guaranteed.
posted by jessamyn at 3:21 PM on June 8, 2005

This happened to my brother several years ago. He had a testicle removed. The tumor turned out to be ________ (the kind of tumor that if it grows really big, will actually grow teeth and hair - ewww - can't remember the word). But not exactly cancerous. I don't really know too much in the way of details, but I remember it was suggested he auto-donate (?) some sperm before the surgery b/c sometimes they find the need to remove both once they're in there. Oh, and he really wanted to keep the one (in a jar) for a conversation piece, and they wouldn't let him. A few months later, Neuticles hit the news big and he spent a little time jealous of dogs.

His recovery was relatively short - because of the type of tumor, there was no need for radiation or chemo or anything. I think he was back on his feet within a week.

Best of luck to you.
posted by ferociouskitty at 3:30 PM on June 8, 2005

Being testicle-less myself, I'd be happy to post a reply while promising to maintain your anonymity. Email in profile.

I hope that you've already found out that it's nothing to worry about. For posterity, though, there are a whole lot of things that it could be that aren't malignant. Get to a doctor ASAP, especially since testicular cancer is highly, highly treatable, but cancer is definitely not a foregone conclusion here. Good luck!
posted by LittleMissCranky at 3:52 PM on June 8, 2005

Slightly post-preview -- teratoma, ferociouskitty. They can be malignant, but they're usually not. (Malignant = cancer. Benign = not cancer. Both describe tumors.)
posted by LittleMissCranky at 3:55 PM on June 8, 2005

A good starting place is the wikipedia article on testicular cancer, which has some good links as well.

I've got a doctor's appointment to poke and prod at it in the morning

Testicular cancer is very rare - the average general practitioner is likely to see no more than one or two cases in an entire career. In the US, there are more urologists (who are the initial specialists) than cases each year, so most urologists cannot be considered experts, either. In short, don't assume that the doctor who sees you has any significant experience in this area, unless you have been explicitly referred to someone who does have such experience.

Testicular cancer, if that's what you have, is among the best cancers to get (if one must) - it's normally found at an early stage, is slow-growing (which means you do have time to fully evaluate options), and has an extremely high cure rate. In fact, the largest controversies in the literature are (a) whether secondary surgery (lower lymph nodes) is better than chemotherapy and/or radiation where there are indications that the cancer may have spread, and (b) what the appropriate factors are for determining those cases where surveillance only is a good approach [for stage 1 cases (the majority)] after the initial surgery to remove the affected testicle.

I do hope you accept an offer to post further information via someone else, to this page. Yours is the type of question where the experience of others is quite valuable.
posted by WestCoaster at 7:34 PM on June 8, 2005

A large number of testicular lumps have passed under my fingers (In my working life, people. Please.) And none of them were ever cancer. There's lots of benign things it's most likely to be.

Go get it checked out and let your doctor worry for you.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:00 PM on June 8, 2005

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