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Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is rare, typically affecting men ages 15 to 45. It can cause a painless testicular lump, swelling, or heaviness, and may result in infertility. Risk factors include cryptorchidism (undescended testicle) or family history of this cancer. These tumors are caused by abnormal overgrowth in the testicles (also called testes), originating from germ cells (cells that normally form sperm cells) or abnormal testicular tissue.

Testicular cancer is diagnosed with a physical exam, ultrasound, and removal of the affected testicle. Cancer staging and grading is based on imaging, microscopic exam of the removed testicle, and lymph node biopsy. Treatment options include surveillance, surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. The prognosis is very good with treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you check for testicular cancer?

    Testicular cancer can cause a testicular lump or swelling, which can be detected during a medical exam. Or a man may notice a change in the shape or size of the testicle. Men who are at risk for testicular cancer should check their testicles on a monthly basis (such as in the shower) for any changes. If a change is detected, an ultrasound can help determine if it's caused by testicular cancer.

  • How do you get testicular cancer?

    Testicular cancer is linked to congenital and hereditary causes, not lifestyle or environmental factors. Cryptorchidism increases the risk, as does a family history of testicular cancer. This type of cancer is linked to a number of genetic mutations, which are believed to be inherited. Abnormal growth of cells in the testicle leads to testicular cancer.

  • Is testicular cancer painful?

    Pain is not a common symptom of testicular cancer. Usually, testicular cancer causes a painless lump in the affected testicle. It can also cause swelling, heaviness in the scrotum, discomfort, or pain. Metastases can cause severe pain or aching, such as in the back, pelvis, or elsewhere in the body.

  • How fast does testicular cancer spread?

    Testicular cancer generally grows slowly, but once it metastasizes, it can cause serious harm to the body quickly. Metastatic testicular cancer can involve the lungs, bone, brain, or other organs. Non-seminomas are a type of testicular cancer that tend to spread more often and faster than seminomas (which are the more common type).

  • Is testicular cancer curable?

    With treatment, testicular cancer has a 95% five year survival rate. The prognosis is better for testicular cancer if it is localized or has only regional spread than for testicular cancer that has metastasized to distant areas of the body. Treatment is based on the stage of the cancer and can include surveillance, surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy.

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Page Sources
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Additional Reading