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Testicular Disease

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What is testicular disease? continued...

Testicular torsion. "Torsion" means twisting -- and for a testicle, that's not a good thing. When testicular torsion occurs, the twisting kinks -- like a garden hose -- and blocks the blood vessels to one testicle. Certain men have a developmental problem that makes them susceptible to testicular torsion. Although testicular torsion is rare, it is an emergency. Sudden testicular pain demands an immediate trip to the emergency room. If treatment is delayed, the testicle can die.

Epididymitis. The epididymis is a long, coiled tube that sits alongside the testicle. Its job is to store sperm while they mature. Epididymitis occurs when the epididymis become inflamed or infected. Sometimes, this is a sexually transmitted infection. More often, epididymitis comes from injury, a buildup of pressure such as after a vasectomy, or from urine backwashing into the tubules during heavy lifting or straining. Epididymitis can cause symptoms ranging from mild irritation to severe testicle pain, swelling, and fever.

Varicocele. Varicocele is a dilation of the veins above the testicle and is usually harmless. Occasionally, however, varicoceles can impair fertility or cause mild to moderate pain. If you have a bulge above your testicle, especially when you're standing or "bearing down," you should have a doctor examine you.

Hydrocele. Hydrocele refers to a fluid collection surrounding the testicle and is usually benign. But if it is large enough, it can cause pain or pressure. Though men can develop a hydrocele after injury, the majority of men with hydroceles have no obvious trauma or known cause.

What can I do to prevent testicular disease?

There is no proven way to prevent testicular cancer. This is why early detection is so important. Experts recommend that all young men perform a testicular self-exam monthly. There also is no recommended method to prevent varicoceles, hydroceles, or testicular torsion. Epididymitis can sometimes be prevented by practicing safe sex and avoiding heavy lifting or straining with a full bladder.

How is testicular disease treated?

Testicular cancer is treated according to the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Cancer that has not spread from the testicle can be cured by orchiectomy, a surgery to remove the testicle. If it has spread outside the testicle testicular cancer treatments may include surgery to remove the abdominal lymph nodes, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the three.

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