Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in one or both testicles. In most cases, only one testicle is affected. It is estimated that 980 Australian men were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2021, making up about 1.2% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in men. It most commonly occurs in men aged 25–40 years.
Most (more than 90%) of testicular cancers start in germ cells, the cells that develop into sperm. There are two main types of germ cell tumours: seminoma and non-seminoma. Seminoma tumours tend to develop more slowly than non-seminoma cancers, and usually in men aged 25 to 45 years. Non-seminoma tumours usually develop more quickly and are more common in the late teens and early twenties. Stromal tumours are much less common and start in the cells that make up the structural and hormone-producing tissue of the testicles. They are usually benign and are removed by surgery.
Risk factors for testicular cancer include:
- Undescended testicles as an infant
- Family history of testicular cancer in your father or brother
- HIV and AIDS
- Certain congenital defects, including hypospadias and inguinal hernia
Symptoms of testicular cancer may include:
- swelling or a lump in a testicle, which is usually painless
- a change in the size or shape of a testicle
- a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- a feeling of unevenness between the testicles
- pain in the lower abdomen, back, testicle or scrotum
- enlargement or tenderness of breast tissue
Sometimes there are no symptoms at all. There are many other possible causes for these symptoms, but if you notice any lumps or changes in your testicles, it is important to see your doctor for further investigations. Early detection is the key to successful treatment, so self-checking your testicles regularly and seeking advice if you find any abnormalities is important.
Treatment for testicular cancer will depend on the type and stage of cancer (whether it is only in the testicle or has spread to other parts of the body). In some cases, surgery to remove the testicle may be all that is needed, while in other cases this may need to be followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. In most cases, testicular cancer can be successfully treated and it has the highest survival rates of any cancer, other than common skin cancers.
For instructions on now to do a testicle self-check visit Cancer Council: Types of Cancer: Testicular Cancer
- Cancer Council: Types of Cancer: Testicular Cancer
- Cancer Australia: Testicular Cancer
- Health Direct: Testicular Cancer