Doctor's Notes on Testicular Cancer vs. Testicle Infection
Testicular cancer is the development of abnormal testicular cells that grow unregulated and may spread (metastasize) to other organs. Testicle infection is invasion or infection of testicular tissue usually by bacteria or viruses. Infections don't metastasize but may spread to other tissues. Both testicular cancers and infection may be curable, but both require very different treatments. A painless lump the size of a pea or marble next to a testicle is the most common sign of testicular cancer that is not found in testicular infections. Less common symptoms may include a sensation of testicular heaviness and shrinking and/or hardness. A testicle infection usually has symptoms of testicular swelling, redness, tenderness, and pain. Some patients may have fever, nausea, pain with urination, fatigue, headaches, and fatigue.
The causes of testicular cancer are unknown, but a major risk factor includes a history of undescended testicles. In contrast, there are many causes of testicle infections (for example, mumps virus, Coxsackievirus, E. coli, Staphylococcus, and many others).
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Inflammation of the Testicle (Orchitis)Orchitis is inflammation of one or both testicles in men, usually caused by an infection. Examples of causes of orchitis include a viral infection such as mumps, mononucleosis, coxsackievirus, E. coli, and STDs. Symptoms of orchitis include testicular swelling, redness, and pain; fever; nausea; fatigue; headache; body aches; and pain during urination. Treatment of orchitis depends upon the cause.
Swollen (Inflamed) TesticlesSwollen testicles can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), epididymitis (infections), or by twisting (torsion) of a testicle or appendage. Less common causes of swollen testicles are inguinal hernias, inflammation of the testicle (orchitis), a tumor in the testicle, kidney stones, hydrocele, and scrotum swelling. Pain, redness, and tenderness can affect one or both testicles and or scrotum. Testicular torsion causes severe testicular pain, swelling, and redness needs immediate surgery to save the affected testicle.
Testicular CancerTesticular cancer is a cancer of the male sex organs essential for producing testosterone, libido and other crucial functions. Cancer is usually in only one testicle, the tumor is malignant if it begins to subsume the healthy tissue. Malignant testicular tumors can metastasize to other organs. Testicular cancer is a rare cancer with a high cure rate.
Testicular Cancer in ChildrenTesticular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles. The two types of testicular cancer are germ cell tumors that start in sperm cells in males. The most common testicular germ cell tumors in young boys are benign teratomas and malignant nonseminomas. Non-germ cell tumors begin in the tissues that surround and support the testicles. Any testicular tumors may be malignant or benign.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.