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Scrotal masses

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

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

Signs and tests

During a physical exam, 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 on the same side as the growth may be enlarged or tender.

The following tests may be done:

Treatment

A health care provider should evaluate all scrotal masses. However, many types of masses are harmless and do not need to be treated unless you are having symptoms.

In some cases, the condition may improve with self-care , antibiotics, or pain relievers. You need to get medical attention right away for a growth in the scrotum that is painful.

If the scrotal mass is part of the testicle, it has a higher risk of being cancerous. Surgery may be needed to remove the testicle if this is the case.

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 if found and treated early.

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

Complications

Complications depend on the cause of the scrotal mass.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you find a lump or bulge in your scrotum. Any new growth in the testicle or scrotum needs to be checked by your health care provider to determine if it may be testicular cancer.

Prevention

You can prevent scrotal masses caused by sexually transmitted diseases by practicing safe sex.

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

References

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.

Barthold JS. Abnormalities of the testes and scrotum and their surgical management. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 132. 

Updated: 10/2/2013

Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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