Testicular Cancer

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At a Glance

 

  • Testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles.
  • Testicular cancer is a highly treatable, often curable, cancer that usually develops in young and middle-aged men, so it’s important to watch for symptoms.
  • Risk factors for testicular cancer include having had an undescended testicle or abnormal development of the testicles, having a personal or family history of testicular cancer, being white.
  • Symptoms of testicular cancer include a painless lump or swelling in either testicle, a change in how the testicle feels, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin, a sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum, pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum.

 

What Is Testicular Cancer?

Two main types of testicular cancer are seminomas and nonseminomas. For patients with seminoma (all stages combined), the cure rate exceeds 90%. For patients with low-stage disease, the cure rate approaches 100%. It is estimated that 8,480 men will be diagnosed with and 350 men will die of cancer of the testis in 2010 in the United States.

Anatomy

The testicles are 2 egg-shaped glands located inside the scrotum (a sac of loose skin that lies directly below the penis). The testicles are held within the scrotum by the spermatic cord, which also contains the vas deferens and vessels and nerves of the testicles.

The testicles are the male sex glands and produce testosterone and sperm. Germ cells within the testicles produce immature sperm that travel through a network of tubules (tiny tubes) and larger tubes into the epididymis (a long coiled tube next to the testicles) where the sperm mature and are stored.

Almost all testicular cancers start in the germ cells. The two main types of testicular germ cell tumors are seminomas and nonseminomas. These 2 types grow and spread differently and are treated differently. Nonseminomas tend to grow and spread more quickly than seminomas. Seminomas are more sensitive to radiation. A testicular tumor that contains both seminoma and nonseminoma cells is treated as a nonseminoma.

Risk Factors

Anything that increases the chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for testicular cancer include:

  • Having had an undescended testicle.
  • Having had abnormal development of the testicles.
  • Having a personal or family history of testicular cancer.
  • Being white.

 

Symptoms

Possible signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • A painless lump or swelling in either testicle.
  • A change in how the testicle feels.
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin.
  • A sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum.
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum.