Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer (accounting for 1% of types of cancer in men) and tends to affect men aged between 15-49, but can happen at any age.
What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer takes place in one or both testicles or testes. Your testes are glands in the scrotum.
In the vast majority of cases, testicular cancer occurs because of changes to the cells in your testicles that make sperm.
What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?
You may not experience any symptoms. However, if you do, the most common symptoms include:
- Lump/swelling of one or both testicles (or change in shape)
- Pain/discomfort in your testicles or scrotum
- Heavy feeling in the scrotum
- Collection of fluid in your testicles
- Back pain
- Enlargement of the breasts
If you have these symptoms, you should see your doctor – particularly if they last longer than 2 weeks.
What causes testicular cancer?
It’s not clear what causes testicular cancer, but there are certain risk factors that make you more likely to get it, such as:
- Having an undescended testicle (in some cases)
- Having testicles that have developed abnormally – this happens as a result of certain conditions like Klinefelter syndrome
- Having HIV
- Your genes – if you have family member with testicular cancer, this might increase your chances
- Your age – testicular cancer is more likely to affect those aged between 15-49
- Your ethnicity – white males are more likely to get it than people of African and African-Caribbean descent
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing symptoms you think might be caused by testicular cancer, see your doctor. To help make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and symptoms.
You will be given a physical examination. You may be referred for blood tests.
If testicular cancer is suspected, your doctor may order a testicular ultrasound.
How is testicular cancer treated?
Treatment options vary individual by individual. Your treatment depends on a range of factors, such as the stage the cancer is at, your own wishes and your health profile.
In most cases, you’ll be recommended surgery to remove the testicle believed to be affected by the cancer. This removed testicle will be analysed to see if the lump is in fact symptomatic of cancer, and if it’s testicular cancer or another form of cancer.
Otherwise, you may instead be recommended a form of surgery that removes lymph nodes near the testicles.
Other options are radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Your doctor will discuss your options with you in detail and recommend what they think is the best option.
If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.