General Information About Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles.
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.
Anatomy of the male reproductive and urinary systems, showing the testicles, prostate, bladder, and other organs.
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.
See the PDQ summary on Testicular Cancer Treatment for more information about testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 15 to 35 years.
Testicular cancer is very rare, but it is the most common cancer found in men between the ages of 15 and 35.
Although there has been an increase in the number of new cases in the last 40 years, the number of deaths caused by testicular cancer has decreased greatly because of better treatments for it.
A condition called cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle) is a main risk factor for developing testicular cancer.
Anything that increases the chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for testicular cancer include the following:
- Having cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle).
- Having testicles that form in an unusual way.
- Being white.
- Having a personal or family history of testicular cancer.
- Having Klinefelter syndrome.
- Having testicular carcinoma in situ.