Testicular Cancer

In most cases, testicular cancer affects only one of the testicles, or testes, a pair of male sex glands that produce sperm and male hormones. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in American males between the ages of 15 and 34; however, the disease is highly treatable when detected early.

The testicles are located under the penis in a loose pouch of skin known as the scrotum. Testicular cancer may cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A lump, swelling or ache in either testicle
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum or belly
  • A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
  • A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
  • Unexplained fatigue or a general feeling of not being well
Testicular Cancer Risk Factors

The cause of testicular cancer is not clear; however, risk factors for testicular cancer may include:

  • Having a testicle that has not yet descended, or a testicle that has been surgically descended, increases risk for testicular cancer
  • Having a family history of the testicular cancer
  • Being between the ages 15 and 34 increases the odds, but the disease can affect infants as well as the elderly
  • Being Caucasian rather than African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • HIV infection and AIDS HIV infection and AIDS
  • An occurrence of cancer in one testicle increases the risk of developing cancer in the other testicle
Diagnosing Testicular Cancer

A complete medical history and physical exam are needed to determine whether a man does in fact have testicular cancer. During the exam, the physician will check the testicles for lumps, swelling or tenderness and the abdomen for enlarged lymph nodes. If any symptoms are found, diagnostic tests such as an ultrasound, blood test, and tissue sample will be needed. If cancer cells are found, a pathologist will determine their type or class after which more tests, such as X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, will be needed to determine if the testicular cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Based on these tests, a physician will determine the testicular cancer's stage:

  • Stage I, the cancer is confined to the testicle
  • Stage II, the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen
  • Stage III, the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes to other parts of the body

Testicular cancer treatment options include radical inguinal orchiectomy, external beam radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and rarely, bone marrow transplant. Learn more about testicular cancer treatment options.

Learn more about cancer treatment options.

The Emory Department of Urology is affiliated with The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Georgia's only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center and serves as the coordinating center for cancer research and care throughout the Emory University system. With NCI Designation Winship joins an elite group of 65 cancer centers in the United States to have earned this coveted status.

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