Testicular Cancer Overview
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers (RMCC), we believe the more you know about the cancer you have, the better you can cope.
Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles (testes), which are located inside the scrotum, a sac of skin underneath the penis. The testicles are responsible for producing male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. Testicular cancer is rare and highly treatable, with most diagnoses made among patients between 20 and 35 years old.
What Is the Survival Rate for Testicular Cancer?
Since testicular cancer is often treated successfully, the risk of dying from this type of cancer is very low (about 1 in 5,000). Even if the disease has been diagnosed at a late stage, most patients are cured.
Survival rates for men with testicular cancer can also offer some peace of mind. Cancer in a localized state offers a five-year survival rate of 99% for the disease; even regional and distant stages have five-year survival rates of 96% and 74%, respectively.
Testicular Cancer Risk Factors
As with all cancers, there are certain things that put you at risk for acquiring the disease— some of which can be controlled, and some that can’t. Knowing what those risk factors are can help you take measures to lower your chances of developing testicular cancer.
There are several risk factors for testicular cancer, with some being more common than others. They can include:
- Undescended testicle (or having had one in the past)
- Personal or family history of testicular cancer
- Being caucasian
- Having had abnormal development of the testicles in some way
- Body size
- Some studies have indicated that taller men may have a somewhat higher risk of testicular cancer; some studies have not
- Most studies have not found a link between testicular cancer and body weight
- Carcinoma inside of the testicle, a non-invasive form of the disease that could, but doesn’t always, progress to cancer
Again, most of the known risk factors for testicular cancer are out of your control, which means there’s no guaranteed way to prevent testicular cancer. With that said, boys who experience cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle) in their youth should be treated for the condition as it can lower the likelihood of developing testicular cancer later in life.
If you believe that you may be at risk, we recommend that you speak with your doctor about it.
Signs and Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
Understanding the symptoms of testicular cancer can increase the likelihood of finding the disease in its early stages. While some cases of testicular cancer manage to go undetected until the cancer has become more advanced, many patients tend to experience signs and symptoms earlier, which indicates that something may be wrong.
Common signs of cancer that develops in the testicles include:
- A painless lump or swelling in either testicle
- A change in how the testicle feels
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- An abrupt build-up of fluid in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin
Keep in mind that many symptoms are related to something other than testicular cancer. Regardless, it is important to see your doctor immediately if you notice one or more of these signs or symptoms, or anything unusual, so the cause can be found and treated if needed.