Common Risk Factors
| What to Look For
| Finding It Earlier Is Better
| Keeping Cancer in Check
Most young men aren't concerned about major health issues like cancer. Most cancers do in fact occur later in life, but testicular cancer is most common in young men.
The good news is that testicular cancer is uncommon and highly curable. Treatment advances have led to a much lower death rate from this cancer than in the past. There is an 85%-90% five-year survival rate, and a 99% survival rate for testicular cancer that is found in the earliest stages.
As with most cancers, the key to the best outcomes are awareness and early detection.
Common Risk Factors
There is no known cause for testicular cancer. It is probably a combination of genetic and environmental factors that lead to testicular cancer. Some factors that have been linked to an increased risk of this cancer include:
- Undescended testicle
(having a testicle that has not fully descended into the scrotum, even if surgery was done to remove it or bring it down)
- Family history of testicular cancer increases your risk by 4 to 9 times
- Young age (more than 50% of cases occur between the ages of 20-44 years)
- Race: White men have a higher risk
What to Look For
Testicular cancer is something that may be detected by you. Some doctors suggest doing regular testicular self-exams which may allow you to detect changes, even small ones. These changes may also be detected by a sexual partner. Here are some signs to be aware of:
- A painless lump or swelling in either testicle
- A scrotum that feels heavy or swollen
- Enlargement or swelling of a testicle or change in the way it feels
- Growth of breast tissue
More advanced testicular cancer may cause other symptoms, such as lower back pain, nausea, or vomiting.
Finding It Earlier Is Better
Promptly see your doctor if you discover a lump or notice other changes in your testicles. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. Special tests may help confirm the diagnosis and check for any signs of that the cancer has spread. These tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Ultrasound of the scrotum
- Exploratory surgery of groin area
- Chest x-ray
- CT scan
Remember that early detection of any cancer increases your chance of successful treatment.
Keeping Cancer in Check
The American Cancer Society recommends that men ages 20-39 years with average risk have a physical exam every 3 years. These exams will include screening for certain cancers. If you have a high risk for testicular cancer, like a family history, you may need to do more. Take some time to discuss your risk with your doctor and find out how to protect yourself.
Do I Have Testicular Cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003172-pdf.pdf. Updated June 5, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Seminoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated May 31, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Testicular cancer. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated September 26, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Testicular Cancer. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/testicular. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Vadaparampil S, Moser R, et al., Factors Associated with Testicular Self-Examination Among Unaffected Young Men from Multiple-Case Testicular Cancer Families. Hered Cancer Clin Pract. 2009;7(1):11.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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