A testicular cyst is a smooth growth, often described as a lump, that develops in or on a testicle. Usually, testicular cysts are benign, which means they are not cancerous. Since it is possible that a growth in a testicle may be a sign of cancer, however, men are typically advised to see a doctor to have such growths examined and make sure they really are non-cancerous cysts.
Most testicular cysts share the same basic characteristics. They are usually smooth and filled with fluid, which is milky or clear in appearance. Often, they are small and painless, though this isn't always the case. This type of cyst can also be large, swollen, and uncomfortable.
There are many reasons a man may develop a testicular cyst. He may develop this type of growth in relation to an injury to his testicles, for example. Inflammation may even lead to the development of a testicular cyst. In some cases, this type of cyst develops because a testicular passage is blocked. Interestingly, a testicular cyst may also form because a man was exposed to a synthetic estrogen called diethylstilbestrol (DES) in his mother's womb. While testicular cysts may develop at any age, they may be more likely to develop as a man grows older.
Doctors usually use a combination of examination and imaging technology to confirm the presence of a testicular cyst. This means a doctor may examine the affected man's testicles to find the lump. Once he's done a physical examination, the doctor may order an ultrasound, MRI, or both in order to make sure it's not solid, which may indicate a tumor rather than a cyst. In some cases, it may be necessary to perform a biopsy to rule out cancer.
Treatment for a testicular cyst often depends on the extent of its growth and the discomfort it causes. If it is a large cyst, causes swelling, or is painful, a doctor may recommend treatment. Medications may be used to relieve the patient's discomfort, and a surgeon may remove the testicular cyst surgically. Sometimes, however, doctors recommend using needle aspiration, which is a procedure in which a needle is used to remove fluid from a cyst, and then following up by injecting medications into the empty cyst sac. This may have the effect of causing the sac to scar, which may make it less likely that another cyst will form in the same place.