Testicular cancer occurs in one or both testicles (testes) which are held within the scrotum, a sac of skin located underneath the penis. The testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. The disease is more common in younger and middle-aged men, with most diagnoses made with patients between 20 and 35 years old. Testicular cancer is rare and highly treatable.
What Is the Survival Rate for Testicular Cancer?
Because most cases of testicular cancer can be treated successfully, the risk of dying from this type of cancer is very low (about 1 in 5,000). Even if diagnosed at a late stage, most testicular cancer can be cured.
Survival rates for men with testicular cancer can also offer some peace of mind. The five-year survival rate for the disease is 99% provided the cancer is in a localized state; even regional and distant stages have five-year survival rates of 96% and 74%, respectively.
Testicular Cancer Risk Factors
A risk factor is anything that changes your chance of getting a disease, such as testicular cancer. However, having risk factors doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will get it (and, conversely, some people develop testicular cancer with no risk factors present.)
There are several risk factors for testicular cancer. If you believe that you may be at risk, it's always best to speak to your doctor about it.
Some risk factors for testicular are more common than others. They include:
- Undescended testicle (or having had one in the past)
- Family or personal history of testicular cancer
- Being caucasian
- Having had abnormal development of the testicles in some way
- Carcinoma inside of the testicle, a non-invasive form of the disease that could, but doesn’t always, progress to cancer
- Body size
- Some studies have indicated that taller men may have a somewhat higher risk of testicular cancer; some studies have not
- Most studies have not found a link between testicular cancer and body weight
Most of the known risk factors for testicular cancer are out of your control. Because of this, there's no guaranteed way to prevent testicular cancer. With that said, boys who experience cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle) in their youth should be treated for the condition as it can lower the likelihood of developing testicular cancer later in life.
Signs and Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
Understanding the symptoms of testicular cancer can increase the likelihood of finding the disease in its early stages. While some cases of testicular cancer manage to go undetected for quite some time, many patients tend to experience signs and symptoms that indicate something may be wrong.
Common signs of cancer that develops in the testicles include:
- A painless lump or swelling in either testicle
- A change in how the testicle feels
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin
- A sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
Many symptoms related to testicular cancer are often a result of something other than cancer. Regardless, it is important to see your doctor immediately if you notice one or more of these signs or symptoms, or anything unusual, so the cause can be found and treated if needed.