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An abnormal growth in a testicle is known as a testicular mass. A testicle is a reproductive gland in males and most have two of these glands contained in the scrotum or scrotal sac. Sometimes, a man will be able to feel the mass or it may be discovered during a routine physical. Testicular masses can be benign or malignant. For this reason, every mass should be diligently examined by a medical professional to discover its nature.
A testicular lump or mass can be caused by fluid accumulation. Sometimes, the fluid is composed primarily of dead sperm cells. This type of mass is called a spermatocele. Often, excessive clear fluid will collect and form a cyst around the testicle and this type of growth is known as a hydrocele. Generally, both a spermatocele and a hydrocele are considered to be benign or noncancerous growths.
A mass may also be caused by a varicocele. This type of mass is formed due to a vein enlargement in the scrotum. Another type of testicular mass may develop due to an accumulation of blood in the areas surrounding the testicle. These masses, known as hematoceles, are commonly seen after an injury to the area.
Other common causes of a testicular mass include epididymitis and an inguinal hernia. Epididymitis occurs when the epididymis becomes inflamed, frequently due to infection. This is the structure that transports sperm. In addition, an inguinal hernia can also cause an abnormal growth. This type of hernia is actually made of small intestines that patch through weak areas in the groin and form a mass in a testicle or scrotum.
One of the most serious causes of a testicular mass is a malignant tumor. Although any man can get testicular cancer, it is generally more common in younger men. A testicle tumor may be biopsied to confirm that it is malignant. As soon as the malignancy is discovered, a treatment plan will be put into place. This may include surgery to remove the testicle and if needed chemotherapy or radiation.
The symptoms of a testicular mass may be the same whether the mass is a malignant or benign tumor. For some men, the mass may be noticeably visible. There may also be pain and a heavy sensation in the scrotum. Sometimes, there can be a significant amount of swelling and tenderness as well. In certain cases, an individual can have a testicular mass and not show any symptoms.
A complete medical exam will be carried out on a man with a testicular mass. Most physicians will order an imaging test, such as a computerized tomography (CT) scan, for a view of the inside of the testicle. A fluid filled mass may need no treatment or a simple draining procedure. Larger masses that are particularly problematic may need to be removed by surgery. Ideally, a man should perform self testicular exams monthly to increase the possibility of detecting an abnormal growth as early as possible.