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Infertility and Testicular Disorders

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What Are the Symptoms of Testicular Cancer?

Symptoms of testicular cancer include a lump, irregularity or enlargement in either testicle; a pulling sensation or feeling of unusual heaviness in the scrotum; a dull ache in the groin or lower abdomen; and pain or discomfort (which may come and go) in a testicle or the scrotum.

What Causes Testicular Cancer?

The exact causes of testicular cancer are not known, but there are certain risk factors for the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of getting a disease. The risk factors for cancer of the testicles include:

  • Age. Testicular cancer can occur at any age, but most often occurs in men between the ages of 15 and 40.
  • Undescended testicle. This is a condition in which the testicles do not descend from the abdomen, where they are located during fetal development, to the scrotum shortly before birth. This condition is a major risk factor for testicular cancer.
  • Family history. A family history of testicular cancer increases the risk.
  • Race and ethnicity. The risk for testicular cancer in white men is more than five times that of black men and more than double that of Asian-American men.

What Treatments Are Available for Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer, and is highly treatable and usually curable. Surgery is the most common treatment for testicular cancer. Surgical treatment involves removing one or both testicles through an incision in the groin. In some cases, the doctor also may remove some of the lymph nodes in the abdomen. Radiation, which uses high-energy rays to attack cancer, and chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill cancer, are other treatment options.

Removing the one testicle should not lead to problems with having sex or children. The remaining testicle will continue making sperm and the male hormone testosterone. To re-establish a normal appearance, a man may be able to have a testicular prosthesis surgically implanted in the scrotum which looks and feels like a normal testicle.

How Successful Is Testicular Cancer Treatment?

The success of testicular cancer treatment depends on the stage of the disease when it is first detected and treated. If the cancer is found and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes, the cure rate is very high, greater than 98%. Even after testicular cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, treatment is highly effective, with a cure rate greater than 90%.

What Should I Do to Prevent Testicular Cancer?

To prevent testicular cancer, all men should be familiar with the size and feel of their testicles, so they can detect any changes. Most doctors feel that recognizing a lump early is an important factor in the successful treatment of testicular cancer and recommend monthly testicular self-exams in combination with routine physical exams for all men after puberty.

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