Cancer is not a subject anyone wants to be well-versed in. Yet, it’s important to know the warning signs so you’re able to act right away if you think something is wrong.
We consulted Cancer.org to bring you the latest information about testicular cancer including symptoms, risk factors and prevention.
Testicular cancer is a rare type of cancer, yet it is the most common cancer to affect males between 15 and 35.
The good news is it’s highly treatable, even in cases where the cancer has spread beyond the testicle. Depending on the type and stage of testicular cancer, there are several treatment options and combinations.
What to watch for
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- A lump or enlargement in either testicle
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- Back pain
It’s important to note that cancer usually affects only one testicle.
When to see a doctor
If you have any of the above symptoms or are experiencing changes in your testicles, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. It’s important to see your doctor if you notice pain, swelling or lumps in your testicles or groin area, especially if this discomfort lasts longer than two weeks.
What causes testicular cancer?
In most cases, it’s not clear what causes testicular cancer. It usually occurs when healthy cells develop abnormalities causing their growth to become out of control. These cancer cells continue to divide even when new cells aren’t needed, creating an accumulation of cells forming a mass in the testicle.
Most testicular cancers begin in the germ cells — the cells that produce immature sperm. It’s not known what causes germ cells to become abnormal.
Risk Factors to Know
Factors that can increase your risk of testicular cancer are:
- An undescended testicle (cryptorchidism). During fetal development, the testes form in the abdominal area and normally descend into the scrotum before birth. Cases where a testicle hasn’t descended pose a greater risk of testicular cancer. The risk remains elevated even if the testicle has been surgically relocated to the scrotum.
It’s important to note that many men who develop testicular cancer don’t have a history of undescended testicles.
- Abnormal testicle development. Conditions (like Klinefelter syndrome) that cause testicles to develop abnormally, can increase your risk of testicular cancer.
- Family history. You may have an increased risk if family members have had testicular cancer.
- Age. It can occur at any age, though typically affects men between ages 15 and 35.
- Race. Testicular cancer is more common in white men than in black men.
General healthy practices like staying active, getting proper rest and eating a healthy diet are good ways to promote health in your body. There are no specific ways to prevent testicular cancer.
Keep an eye on your testicles (some doctors recommend self-examinations) to allow you to catch testicular cancer at its earliest stage. See a doctor as soon as possible if you have any concerns about or symptoms of testicular cancer.