The testes hang ‘outside’ the body in the scrotum because sperm production needs a cooler temperature than the inside of the body. Because the testes are outside the main body cavity they are more vulnerable to injury, but also it is easier for a man to discover lumps or bumps.
Testicular torsion or ‘twisting’ of the testis on its cord is an emergency situation. It is more common in the newborn and boys after puberty, but can occur at any age. Surgical correction is required to prevent damage to or loss of a testis.
Other causes of scrotal pain include local Infection of the epididymis, mumps orchitis, or a hernia that has become trapped. All testicular pain needs to be seen urgently by the emergency department at the hospital or your own GP.
Testicular cancer is the most common malignancy in males between the ages of 15 and 35 years but overall accounts for only about 1 percent of cancers in men and treatment success is high
Undescended testis or a family history of testicular cancer are risk factors for this cancer. Regular screening by examination of the testes is not recommended but if a man notices any change in the testis (a lump, firmness, tenderness) they should seek advice from a doctor.
Not all lumps are a cancer. Other causes of swelling include a hydrocele (fluid around the testis), infections, and hernias. However, all swelling should be investigated by your doctor.
For further information, go to Healthy Male (formerly Andrology Australia) or see Dr Michael Gillman's men's health fact sheets.