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Testicular Cancer

What is Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer starts in the testicles, which are parts of the male reproductive system. The testicles are two small glands inside the scrotum, the pouch of skin below the penis. They make hormones and sperm. Testicular cancer is rare, but it is one of the most common cancers in younger men between ages 15 and 35. Overall, testicular cancer accounts for only about 1% of all cancers in men.

Types of Testicular Cancer

There are two main types of testicular cancer:

Seminoma is the most common type of testicular cancer. It tends to grow slowly.

Nonseminoma is a faster growing cancer that comes in different forms: embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac carcinoma, choriocarcinoma and teratoma.

Your doctor will determine exactly what type of cancer you have through testing.

Signs and Symptoms

Some common signs of testicular cancer include:

If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away for an exam. Catching testicular cancer early greatly improves treatment success.

Risk Factors

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing testicular cancer:

  • Undescended testicle – A testicle that hasn’t moved down into the scrotum before birth
  • Family history – Having a close relative with testicular cancer
  • HIV infection
  • Personal history – Having had testicular cancer before
  • Age – Most common in younger men


To diagnose testicular cancer, your doctor will:

  • Perform a physical exam of your testicles
  • Order imaging tests like an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI
  • Draw blood to test for tumor markers that can indicate cancer
  • Take a biopsy to examine testicular tissue for cancer cells

These tests will help determine if you have testicular cancer and if so, what type you have.

Stages of Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is categorized into stages based on how far it has spread:

Cancer is only in the testicle.

Cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen.

Cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes to the lungs, liver, etc.

Knowing the stage helps determine the right treatment approach.


Common treatments for testicular cancer include:

Your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan based on your specific case. The good news is that testicular cancer is highly treatable, especially when detected early on.

Outlook and Survival Rates

The outlook for testicular cancer is generally very good, particularly when diagnosed at an early stage:

  • Stage I has a 5-year relative survival rate of almost 100%
  • Survival rates decrease for higher stage cancers

Discuss your prognosis with your doctor, as many factors affect your outlook.

Support and Coping

Dealing with testicular cancer can be challenging. Be sure to:

  • Discuss any concerns with your doctor
  • Connect with testicular cancer support groups
  • Consider options for preserving fertility before treatment
  • Seek help coping with effects on body image or sexuality

Your medical team is there to support you throughout the process. Staying strong and hopeful also helps in the healing process.

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