Testicular Cancer - Topic Overview
What is testicular cancer?
occurs when cells that are not normal grow out of control in the
testicles (testes). It is highly curable, especially
when it is found early.
The testes are the two male sex organs
that make and store
sperm . They are located in a pouch below the penis
scrotum. The testes also make the hormone
Testicular cancer is not very common. It affects mostly young males between the ages of 15 and 35 who are white.1
This topic covers seminoma and nonseminoma cancer. It does not cover non-germ cell testicular cancers, such as Leydig cell tumors.
What causes testicular cancer?
Experts don't know
what causes testicular cancer. But some problems may increase your chances of
getting it. These include:
- Having a testicle that has not dropped down into the scrotum
from the belly. This is called an
undescended testicle. Normally, a baby's testicles
drop down into his scrotum before he is born or by the time he is 3 months
- Klinefelter syndrome. This is a genetic problem that
affects males. Normally, males have one X and one Y chromosome. Males with
Klinefelter syndrome have at least two X chromosomes and, in rare cases, as
many as three or four.
- A personal or family history of testicular cancer.
Most men who get testicular cancer don't have any risk
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of
testicular cancer include:
- A change in the size or shape of one or both
testes. You may or may not have pain.
- A heavy feeling in the
- A dull pressure or pain in the lower back, belly, or
groin, or in all three places.
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
Most men find
testicular cancer themselves during a
self-examination . Or your doctor may find it during a
routine physical exam.
Because other problems can cause symptoms
like those of testicular cancer, your doctor may order tests to find out if you
have another problem. These tests may include blood tests and imaging tests of
the testicles such as an
ultrasound or a
CT or CAT scan. These tests can also help find out if
cancer has spread to other parts of your body.
How is it treated?
Nearly all men with testicular
cancer begin treatment with surgery to remove the testicle that has cancer.
This surgery is called radical inguinal orchiectomy (say "IN-gwuh-nul or-kee-EK-tuh-mee"). Removing the testicle
allows your doctor to find out the type of cancer cells you have. It also helps
him or her plan any other treatment you may need.
surgery may include:
- Surveillance. You may be able to wait and watch to
see what happens. During surveillance, you will have regular checkups with
your doctor to make sure that the cancer is gone.
- Chemotherapy. This is powerful medicine that destroys
cancer cells that remain after surgery.
- Radiation therapy. This is a high dose of X-rays used
to destroy cancer cells. It is mostly used to treat a kind of cancer called
seminoma. But it is sometimes used after surgery to kill leftover cancer cells.
Radiation therapy can also be used to treat cancer that has spread beyond the
- Additional surgery to remove lymph nodes. This surgery is
retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND).