Win the Fight Against Testicular Cancer!

What is Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer is a disease in which cells become malignant (cancerous) in one or both testicles.

The testicles (also called testes or gonads) are a pair of male sex glands. They produce and store sperm and are the main source of testosterone (male hormones) in men.

These hormones control the development of the reproductive organs and other male physical characteristics. The testicles are located under the penis in a sac-like pouch called the scrotum.

Based on the characteristics of the cells in the tumor, testicular cancers are classified as seminomas or nonseminomas.

Other types of cancer that arise in the testicles are rare and are not described here.

Seminomas may be one of three types:

classic, choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, and yolk sac tumors.

Testicular tumors may contain both seminoma and nonseminoma cells.

Testicular cancer accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers in men in the United States.

About 8,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer, and about 390 men die of this disease each year.

Testicular cancer occurs most often in men between the ages of 20 and 39, and is the most common form of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 34.

It is most common in white men, especially those of Scandinavian descent.

The testicular cancer rate has more than doubled among white men in the past 40 years, but has only recently begun to increase among black men. The reason for the racial differences in incidence is not known.

Understanding Cancer

Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old, they die, and new cells take their place.

Sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.

Not all tumors are cancer. Tumors can be benign or malignant:

Benign tumors are not cancer:

Benign tumors are rarely life-threatening. Usually, benign tumors can be removed, and they seldom grow back. Cells from benign tumors do not spread to tissues around them or to other parts of the body.

Malignant tumors are cancer:

Malignant tumors generally are more serious than benign tumors. They may be life-threatening.

Malignant tumors often can be removed, but they can grow back.

Cells from malignant tumors can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Also, cancer cells can break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system. That is how cancer cells spread from the original cancer (primary tumor) to form new tumors in other organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?

The exact causes of testicular cancer are not known. However, studies have shown that several factors increase a man’s chance of developing this disease.

  • Undescended testicle (cryptorchidism):

    Normally, the testicles descend from inside the abdomen into the scrotum before birth. The risk of testicular cancer is increased in males with a testicle that does not move down into the scrotum. This risk does not change even after surgery to move the testicle into the scrotum. The increased risk applies to both testicles.

    Congenital abnormalities:

    Men born with abnormalities of the testicles, penis, or kidneys, as well as those with inguinal hernia (hernia in the groin area, where the thigh meets the abdomen), may be at increased risk.

  • History of testicular cancer:

    Men who have had testicular cancer are at increased risk of developing cancer in the other testicle.

  • Family history of testicular cancer:

    The risk for testicular cancer is greater in men whose brother or father has had the disease.

    Testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles.

    The testicles are 2 egg-shaped glands located inside the scrotum (a sac of loose skin that lies directly below the penis). The testicles are held within the scrotum by the spermatic cord, which also contains the vas deferens and vessels and nerves of the testicles.

    The testicles are the male sex glands and produce testosterone and sperm.

    Germ cells within the testicles produce immature sperm that travel through a network of tubules (tiny tubes) and larger tubes into the epididymis (a long coiled tube next to the testicles) where the sperm mature and are stored.

    Almost all testicular cancers start in the germ cells.

    The two main types of testicular germ cell tumors are seminomas and nonseminomas.

    These 2 types grow and spread differently and are treated differently.

    Nonseminomas tend to grow and spread more quickly than seminomas.

    Seminomas are more sensitive to radiation.

    A testicular tumor that contains both seminoma and nonseminoma cells is treated as a nonseminoma.

    Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men 20 to 35 years old.

    Go To Testicular Cancer Symptoms

    Go to Testicular Cancer Diagnosis

    Go to Testicular Cancer Staging

    Go to Testicular Cancer Treatment