Cancer of the testicle is 1 of the less frequent cancers and tends to mainly affect men between 15 and 49 years of age.
Typical symptoms are a painless swelling or lump in 1 of the testicles, or any transform in shape or texture of the testicles.
It’s essential to be aware of what feels regular for you. Get to know your body and see a GP if you notice any changes.
Read more about the look and feel of normal testicles, the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer and diagnosing testicular cancer.
The testicles are the 2 oval-shaped male sex organs that sit down inside the scrotum on both sides of the penis.
The testicles are an essential part of the male reproductive system simply because they produce sperm and the hormone testosterone, that plays a major role in male sexual development.
Types of testicular cancer
The various types of testicular cancer are categorized by the type of cells cancer begins in.
The most common type of testicular cancer is germ cell testicular cancer, which accounts for about 95% of all cases. Germ cells are a type of cell that the entire body uses to create sperm.
There are 2 main subtypes of germ cell testicular cancer. They are:
- Seminomas – which have turn out to be more common in the past 20 years and now account for 40 to 45% of testicular cancers
- Non-seminomas – which account for many of the rest and include teratomas, embryonal carcinomas, choriocarcinomas and yolk sac tumours. Both kinds tend to respond well to chemotherapy.
Less typical types of testicular cancer include:
- Leydig cell tumours – which account for around 1 to 3% of cases
- Sertoli cell tumours – which account for less than 1% of cases
How common is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancers are a relatively rare type of cancer, accounting for just 1% of all cancers that occur in men.
Around 2,300 men are identified with testicular cancer each year in the UK.
Testicular cancer is uncommon compared with other cancers because it tends to impact younger men.
Although it’s fairly uncommon overall, testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer to affect men between the ages of 15 and 49.
For reasons that are not clear, white men have a higher risk of building testicular cancer than men from other ethnic groups.
The number of instances of testicular cancer diagnosed each year in the UK has approximately doubled since the mid-1970s. Again, the reasons for this are unclear.
Causes of testicular cancer
The exact cause or causes of testicular cancer are not known, but a number of aspects have been identified that increase a man’s risk of developing it.
Undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) is the most substantial risk factor for testicular cancer.
Around 3 to 5% of boys are born with their own testicles inside their abdomen. They generally descend into the scrotum during the first year of life, but in some boys the testicles do not descend.
In most cases, testicles that do not descend by the time a boy is a year old descend at a later stage.
If the testicles do not come down naturally, an operation known as an orchidopexy can be carried out to move the testicles into the correct position inside of the scrotum.
It’s significant that undescended testicles move down into the scrotum during early on childhood because boys with undescended testicles have a higher risk of creating testicular cancer than boys whose testicles descend normally.
It’s also much simpler to observe the testicles when they’re in the scrotum.
Men with undescended testicles are about 3 times more likely to build testicular cancer than men whose testicles descend at birth or shortly after.
Having a close family member with a history of testicular cancer or an undescended testicle increases your risk of also developing it.
For example, if your dad had testicular cancer, you’re around 4 times more probably to develop it than someone with no family history of the condition.
If your brother had testicular cancer, you’re about 8 times more likely to develop it.
Current research indicates a number of genes may be included in the development of testicular cancer in families where more than 1 person has had the condition.
This is an continuous area of research in which patients and their families may be asked to take part.
Previous testicular cancer
Men who have formerly been diagnosed with testicular cancer are between 12 and 18 times more likely to develop it in the other testicle.