A scrotal mass is an abnormal growth in a male’s scrotum. The scrotum is the bag that hangs behind the male penis. This bag contains the testicles and the other structures necessary to create, store, and transport sperm, and regulate sex hormones.
A mass in the scrotum could be either an accumulation of fluids, abnormal tissue growth, or inflamed or hardened scrotum contents.
In order to determine what the mass is, and whether it is something to be concerned about, the mass needs to be examined by a physician. It is not necessary for a mass in the scrotum to be painful for it to be a reason for alarm. A mass in the scrotum could possibly be cancer, or it could be caused by an underlying condition that affects the health of the male reproductive system.
Performing a self-examination regularly, and attending regular doctor’s appointments are the best way t to catch a problem, diagnose it, and begin treatment before the problem becomes worse.
A scrotal mass will have signs and symptoms. However, the symptoms experienced will depend on the makeup of the mass, and the level of abnormality of the mass. However, when the location is taken into consideration, the generalized signs and symptoms may include the following:
Scrotal masses can be caused by hydrocele (excess fluid between the layers of a sac that surrounds each testicle), epididymitis, spermatocele (spermadic cyst), testicular cancer, orchitis, testicular torsion, hematocele, varicocele, and an inguinal hernia. Scrotal masses can also be caused by enlarged veins in the scrotum, a twisting of the nerves connecting your testicles to your penis, and inflammation of a testicle (usually caused by a virus like the mumps).
Certain risk factors can increase your chances of getting a scrotal mass. They include having undescended or retractile testicles, a history of testicular cancer and abnormalities of the testicles. Retractile or undescended testicles could lead to further complications like testicular cancer, testicular torsion, and inguinal hernias.
Some less common causes of scrotal masses include insect bites, allergic reactions, or Scholein-Henoch purpura (a condition that causes stomach pain, rashes, and painful scrotal swelling in boys).
Most masses in the scrotum can be handled with minimally invasive surgery. Others do not require any treatment at all. Depending on the cause, medication may take care of the problem all together.
Here are the three most common reasons for a scrotal mass:
Testicular Cancer: If it is found that the mass is testicular cancer, you will be referred to an oncologist. The treatment plan will be determined by whether the cancer is isolated, or whether it has had a chance to spread. During this surgery, the affected testicle is typically removed. After the surgery, you will be placed on a round of chemotherapy medication, or radiation therapy. This will kill off any of the cancer cells that broke free during the surgery.
Scrotal masses caused by STIs can be prevented or reduced by practicing safe sex, wearing a cup during physical activity, and checking your testicles and scrotum for lumps regularly. Checking at least once per month is recommended.
While preventing a scrotal mass can be difficult, you can look out for any symptoms to prevent any complications (like infertility or poor development during puberty), or to prevent the condition from becoming worse. Symptoms include swelling in the scrotum, a tender or swollen testicle, a hardened testicle, a dull aching pain or heaviness in the scrotum, an unusual lump, nausea or vomiting, redness of the skin on the scrotum, and pain that radiates throughout the lower back, abdomen or groin.
You should see a doctor immediately if you experience any sudden pain in your scrotum to avoid permanent damage to your testicles.
Some types of scrotal masses are more commonly seen in children. Call your doctor immediately if your child experiences any of these symptoms.