What is Testicular Cancer?

Often categorized as a growth or lump on the testicles, testicular cancer the most common cancer in American males ages 15 to 35, and is highly treatable.

The Testicles

Testicles are part of the male reproductive system. These two organs are each normally a little smaller than a golf ball in adult men and are contained within a sac of skin called the scrotum. Their main functions are to make sperm and male hormones such as testosterone.

Types of Testicular Cancer

More than 90 percent of cancers of the testicle develop in germ cells. These are the cells that make sperm. There are two main types of germ cell tumors:

Seminomas

These tumors tend to grow and spread more slowly than non-seminomas. More than 95 percent of seminomas occur in men between the ages of 25 and 45.

Non-seminomas

These types of germ cell tumors usually occur in men in their late teens and early 30s.

When to See a Provider

Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you detect any pain, swelling or lumps in your testicles or groin area.

Signs & Symptoms

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Testicular Cancer?

  • A lump or swelling of a testicle
  • Breast growth or soreness
  • Low back pain
  • Early puberty
Timothy G. Wilson, M.D. and Kayla T. Tran, ACNP analyze a patient’s testicular tumor
Causes & Risk Factors

Testicular cancer occurs when the healthy cells in your testicles become altered, however, research is not clear on the key causes of testicular cancer in most cases.

Testicular Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Family history – genetics
  • Age – testicular cancer is the most common cancer in American males ages 15 to 35
  • Race – More common in Caucasian men
  • An undescended testicle during fetal development
  • Abnormal testicle development
Diagnosis

How is Testicular Cancer Diagnosed?

Testicular Cancer is diagnosed using ultrasound and blood tests. An ultrasound is a quick and painless scan and tells your doctor where your lumps are located.

Stages

Stages

If you are diagnosed with testicular cancer, your urologic oncologist will determine the stage of the disease. Staging is a way to classify cancer by how much of the disease is in the body and whether it has spread. This helps doctors plan the best way to treat the cancer.

Diagram showing the stages of testicular cancer

pTis

This stage is testicular carcinoma in situ (CIS), often a precancerous condition in which there are germ cells that appear cancerous but are not yet behaving the way cancer cells do. CIS becomes cancer when the cells spread to areas of the testicle(s) where they do not normally belong.

pT1

The primary tumor is only in the testicle, which may include the rete testis. It has not grown into blood vessels or lymph vessels in the testicles. The tumor may have grown into the inner membrane layer surrounding the testicle, called the tunica albuginea. It has not spread to the outer membrane layer surrounding the testicle, called the tunica vaginalis.

pT2

The tumor is in the testicle, which may include the rete testis, and it has grown into blood vessels or lymphatic vessels. Or the tumor has grown into the fatty tissue next to the epididymis called the hilar soft tissue, the epididymis, or the tunica vaginalis, with or without growth to blood or lymph vessels.

pT3

The tumor has grown into the spermatic cord, without or without growth to blood or lymph vessels.

pT4

The tumor has grown into the scrotum, without or without growth to blood or lymph vessels.

Treatment

How is Testicular Cancer Treated?

Treatment options for testicular cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

You may receive more than one type of treatment, depending on several factors, including the grade of the tumor, where it is located and whether it has spread to other parts of your body.

Urology and Urologic Oncology Specialists

Our urologists are leaders in the field of multi-disciplinary approaches to diagnosing and treating testicular cancer.

A team of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, researchers and more assesses the individual needs of every patient. We are home to a world-renowned urologist who is an expert in minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic-assisted cancer surgery.