What is a Groin Lump?
A groin lump is any lump that grows in the areas between the thighs and close to the genitals. Having a lump in the groin can be a cause for concern because lumps that grow on the body are often associated with cancer. Although cancer is one of the possible causes of a groin lump, it is very rare. There are many other possible causes of a groin lump, such as non-cancerous cysts, swollen lymph nodes, hernias, vein bulging, and more.
Depending on the actual cause of the condition, a patient with a groin lump may also experience other symptoms such as:
- Pain in the groin lump
- Swelling or redness of the lump and its surrounding area
- Painful or burning urination
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty in bowel movement
- Stomach pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Night sweats or excessive sweating at night
- Back pain
- Rapid fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
If there is a palpable lump in the groin or if the lump has any of the mentioned symptoms, it is crucial to consult a doctor immediately as it may indicate another condition.
Possible Causes of Groin Lump
To properly treat a groin lump, it’s essential to determine its cause. Some of the possible causes of a groin lump include:
- Presence of non-cancerous cysts. Cysts are small sacs of membranous tissue that can contain fluid, air, and other substances or materials. Most cysts are non-cancerous and not dangerous. Some types of cysts that can grow in the groin are epidermoid and sebaceous cysts.
Epidermoid cysts grow beneath the skin of the groin. They contain a white substance, specifically keratin, a type of protein commonly found in the skin, hair, and nails. Meanwhile, sebaceous cysts contain a yellow oily substance. These cysts can form in blocked hair follicles and sweat glands.
- Swelling of the lymph nodes or lymph node. There can also be a noticeable lump in the groin if its lymph nodes are swollen. Lymph nodes are small, round glands of the immune system that help in fighting off bacteria, viruses, and other types of microbes. When lymph nodes swell, the bulging in the affected parts becomes more noticeable.
Often, lymph nodes swell due to other body conditions, such as:
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Cancer of the genitals or other reproductive organs
- Having a hernia. A hernia, in general, refers to the protrusion of organs through a hole or tear in the supporting muscle or tissue. For instance, all abdominal organs like the stomach, intestines, and others are contained within a large sack (abdominal wall). When there is a tear in the abdominal wall, parts of the intestines can protrude through, resulting in a bulge or hernia in the stomach.
There are many different types of hernias, but only inguinal and femoral hernias lead to a lump in the groin. In an inguinal hernia, fatty tissue or a small portion of the intestines protrudes through a tear in the lower abdominal wall. As a result, these protruding organs cause a lump in the groin area.
In a femoral hernia, the muscle wall of the groin itself is problematic. With the weakening of the groin’s muscle wall, fatty tissue or small intestines are pushed downwards and can protrude. The muscle wall of the groin can become weak and fragile due to excessive obesity, strong and prolonged coughing, exercising, or straining while defecating.
- Bulging and enlargement of veins. In the medical field, the bulging and enlargement of veins are called an aneurysm. There are many types, but the femoral aneurysm is the primary type that causes a lump in the groin. With a femoral aneurysm, the femoral artery, which runs from the top of the thigh down the leg, becomes swollen. Experts are not yet sure about the causes of the femoral artery’s swelling, but there are activities or diseases that can lead to vein swelling like smoking, high blood pressure, and others.
Apart from a femoral aneurysm, varicose veins can also result in a lump or bulge in the groin. In this condition, the veins twist and become swollen due to increased pressure inside the vein itself. Varicose veins often appear on the thighs, legs, and even the groin. They can be caused by aging, prolonged and frequent standing, excessive obesity, or pregnancy.
- Having cancer. One of the most dangerous causes of a lump in the groin is cancer. Lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes is the main type of cancer that can cause a lump in the groin. According to doctors, it is uncertain how this type of cancer develops. But in this condition, the body’s white blood cells (WBC) or lymphocytes undergo genetic mutations and multiply rapidly. With the rapid increase in WBCs, lumps form in the lymph nodes.
Complications of a Groin Lump
If a lump in the groin is ignored and left untreated, it can lead to complications. For instance, a lump caused by a non-cancerous cyst, although not particularly dangerous, can rupture and lead to an infection.
Meanwhile, if swollen lymph nodes in the groin are due to sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, they can result in infertility, blindness, paralysis, and dementia.
If a hernia is the cause of the lump in the groin, the organ protruding through the hernia can die due to severe constriction and a lack of blood supply. It can also cause severe pain, vomiting, and nausea if not addressed promptly.
With bulging and enlarged veins, the veins can burst and lead to a heart attack, stroke, or even death. If the cause of the lump in the groin is cancer, the lumps can quickly spread to other parts of the body, making them increasingly difficult to remove and treat.
Therefore, if you notice a lump in the groin, it is best to consult a doctor immediately for the appropriate treatment.