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Scrotal masses

Definition

A scrotal mass is a lump or bulge that can be felt in the scrotum, the sac that contains the testicles.

See also:

Alternative Names

Testicular mass; Scrotal growth

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A scrotal mass can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

Benign scrotal masses include:

  • Hematocele -- blood collection in the scrotum
  • Hydrocele -- fluid collection in the scrotum
  • Spermatocele -- a cyst-like growth in the scrotum that contains fluid and dead sperm cells
  • Varicocele -- a varicose vein along the spermatic cord

Scrotal masses can be caused by:

Symptoms

  • Enlarged scrotum
  • Painless or painful bulge or lump in the scrotum (testicle lump)

Signs and tests

During a physical examination, the health care provider may feel a growth in the scrotum. This growth may:

  • Feel tender
  • Be smooth, twisted, or irregular
  • Feel liquid, firm, or solid
  • Be only on one side of the body

The inguinal lymph nodes in the groin may be enlarged or tender on the affected side.

The following tests may be done to help diagnose a scrotal mass:

Some men with a high risk for testicular cancer may perform monthly testicular self-examination. Any new growth in the testicle or scrotum needs to be checked by your health care provider, even if you don't perform regular self-examinations.

Treatment

A health care provider should evaluate ALL scrotal masses. Hematoceles, hydroceles, and spermatoceles are usually harmless and do not need to be treated.

Sometimes the condition may improve with self-care, antibiotics, or pain relievers. Painful growths in the scrotum need IMMEDIATE medical attention.

A jock strap (scrotal support) may help relieve the pain or discomfort from the scrotal mass. A hematocele, hydrocele, or spermatocele may sometimes need surgery to remove the collection of blood, fluid, or dead cells.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most conditions that cause scrotal masses can be easily treated. Even testicular cancer has a high cure rate with early diagnosis and treatment.

Have your health care provider examine any scrotal growth as soon as possible.

Complications

Complications depend on the cause of the scrotal mass. For example, varicoceles may lead to infertility.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you find a lump or bulge in your scrotum.

Prevention

You can prevent scrotal masses caused by sexually transmitted diseases (for example, epididymitis) by practicing safe sex.

To prevent scrotal masses caused by injury, wear an athletic cup during exercise.

You may perform monthly testicular self-exams if you are at increased risk for developing testicular cancer. See: Testicular self-examination

It is very important that you see a health care provider right away for any scrotal mass.

References

Shaw J. Diagnosis and treatment of testicular cancer. Am Fam Physician. 2008;77:469-474, 475-476.

Wampler SM, Llanes M. Common scrotal and testicular problems. Prim Care. 2010;37:613-626.

Montgomery JS, Bloom DA. The diagnosis and management of scrotal masses. Med Clin North Am. 2011;95:235-244.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Testicular Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2011;154:483-486.

Schneck FX, Bellinger MF. Abnormalities of the testes and scrotum and their surgical management. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 127.


Review Date: 9/16/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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